When the President of the World Bank announced in 2015 that, according to projections from his organization, the proportion of people worldwide living in extreme poverty would, for the first time, fall below ten percent, it was obvious just how much this pleased Dr. Jim Yong Kim, “We are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty.”
In 1990, approximately 30 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, but this had been reduced to about 13 percent in 2012 and to roughly 9 percent in 2015. However, this does not mean that the people who are no longer deemed to be extremely poor – the official poverty level of the World Bank increased in 2015 from USD1.25 to USD 1.90 per day – live a carefree life. Life is still hard with a few dollars a day. The figures show that for an increasing number of people life is more than just the daily battle to survive. Many of them are already moving up to the middle class. According to the criteria of the World Bank, these are people who have more than USD 4 per day. This number had tripled by 2015. China has been especially successful in reducing poverty. The country was able to do this through its integration in the global economy and the associated economic growth. However, particularly in many African countries there is a lot of catching up to do.
Companies can help by creating jobs and paying adequate wages. But this requires that the poorest people have access to education and health care. This makes it clear that this SDG is very closely connected to many other sustainable development targets.
Like its predecessor companies, for many years Evonik has operated numerous production sites in less developed countries in Asia, but also in South and Central America and South Africa. Building new production plants not only creates and secures jobs in the Group, but also in supplier companies, such as the construction industry.
Numerous people have found good, well-paid work at Evonik’s production sites, which has enabled them to escape from the cycle of poverty. This work allows them to start families, to take part in cultural and social events and to send their children to school because they no longer have to contribute to the family’s subsistence. Evonik employees – like the company itself – pay taxes which, in turn, enables the government to invest in infrastructure and education. With their wages, employees buy food, clothing, and services, for example, which creates more earning opportunities for other people.
The procurement policy of the company is, where possible, to buy raw materials locally – in other words, geographically close to our sites. This creates new jobs and secures existing ones. Worldwide, in 2016 we purchased more than 70 percent of our EUR 7.6 billion procurement volume locally.
Poverty not only exists in less developed countries, it also affects people in industrial nations and in developed countries. In Germany, the Evonik Foundation comes into play in this regard. With its social engagement, it especially helps children in need. This involvement is intended to balance out social disadvantages. For example, at Christmas 2017 the German child protection agency, Deutscher Kinderschutzbund, received a donation to support the work of its local associations at 16 Evonik sites in Germany. In the direct vicinity of Evonik's Head Office in Essen, the Evonik Foundation also supports social projects from selected partners, which are aimed mainly at helping educationally disadvantaged children.