Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The UN has called for UBI for the world's poorest during the pandemic

En collaboration avec
Sultana, wife of Amer al-Dahn, removes dry clothes at home in Tripoli, northern Lebanon July 1, 2020. Picture taken July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir - RC2RLH9RY6YQ

The pandemic could push a further 265 million people to the brink of starvation. Image: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Michelle Nichols
Journalist, Reuters
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Inequality is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Inequality

  • In a new report, the U.N. Development Programme has suggested that implementing a temporary universal basic income, for the world's poorest 2.7 billion people, could help ease the toll of the pandemic.
  • The U.N. has previously warned the pandemic could push 265 million people to the brink of starvation, but UBI could avoid this.
  • The report suggests this could be funded by repurposing billions of dollars of debt repayments.

A temporary basic income for the world’s poorest 2.7 billion people in 132 developing countries could help slow the spread of the coronavirus by allowing them to stay home, according to a U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) report released on the 23rd of July.

Have you read?

The report suggests three options - top-ups on existing average incomes, lump-sum transfers linked to differences in the median standard of living across a country or uniform lump sum transfers regardless of where someone lives in a country.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented social and economic measures. Introducing a temporary basic income for the world’s poorest people has emerged as one option,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. “Bailouts and recovery plans cannot only focus on big markets and big business.”

Coronavirus Covid-19 virus infection China Hubei Wuhan contagion spread economics dow jones S&P 500 stock market crash 1929 depression great recession
One way countries could pay for temporary basic income would be repurposing debt payments. Image: U.N. Development Programme

The coronavirus has infected at least 14.8 million people and there have been more than 610,000 known deaths worldwide, according to a Reuters tally. The United Nations has warned that the pandemic and associated global recession could trigger an increase in poverty worldwide for the first time since 1990 and push 265 million people to the brink of starvation.

The UNDP report suggests that one way countries could pay for a temporary basic income would be repurposing billions of dollars that would have been spent servicing their debt.

The Group of 20 major economies in April agreed on a suspension of debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries until the end of the year. However, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for debt relief to be offered to all developing and middle-income countries.

The G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative has proven challenging to implement, with only 42 of 73 eligible countries expressing interest thus far, saving just $5.3 billion in service payments instead of the $12 billion initially promised.

Loading...
Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Equity, Diversity and InclusionEconomic Growth
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

We must move towards gender equity when it comes to care. Here's why

Gary Barker

June 14, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum