Michael Green: How we can make the world a better place by 2030 – Filmed September 2015 at TEDGlobal>London

Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. Meeting at the UN in September 2015, they agreed to a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030. Social progress expert Michael Green invites us to imagine how these goals and their vision for a better world can be achieved.

Who counts as ‘homeless’ depends on how you ask – by Joanna S. Kao  , E. Tammy Kim , Haya El Nasser  January 31, 2015 5:00AM ET

LOS ANGELES — About two dozen volunteers gathered in a room Wednesday night for their instructions: Don’t shine flashlights at people. Don’t talk to them. Use your judgment when you see a recreational vehicle or makeshift tent. Do not get out of the car alone.

 Clyde Heimer (left) and his friend Bill (who did not give his last name), volunteered in the Los Angeles homeless count Wednesday night. They themselves are homeless and said the tally underestimates the number of people living on the streets.Haya El Nasser / Al Jazeera America

Clyde Heimer (left) and his friend Bill (who did not give his last name), volunteered in the Los Angeles homeless count Wednesday night. They themselves are homeless and said the tally underestimates the number of people living on the streets.Haya El Nasser / Al Jazeera America

It was day two of a three-day homeless count in Los Angeles, the U.S. city with the largest population living on the streets. About 6,000 people had signed up to help. Each was required to attend a 30-minute training session, then paired with another volunteer and provided a map, tally sheet and flashlight.

Leah Hubbard, a graduate student, canvassed a 0.89-square-mile area of the city’s Westchester neighborhood. “Most people think homelessness is confined to Skid Row,” she said. But on the count, she and her teammate looked for homeless people along far less infamous areas.

Counters in some 3,000 cities and counties across the country helped quantify the nation’s homeless population this month. It’s a massive ritual overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Yet critics warn against relying solely on this “point-in-time” method and its underlying definition of homelessness. Last January, HUD counted 578,424 people on the streets and in shelters in the U.S., down 11 percent from 2007 — while the Department of Education, or DOE, which uses a different, more expansive methodology, reported that child and family homelessness doubled over the last decade.

Advocates concerned about this discrepancy are pushing for a legislative fix. On Wednesday, a bipartisan bill meant to enlarge HUD’s concept of homelessness was introduced, for the second consecutive year, in both houses of Congress. The Homeless Children and Youth Act, or HCYA, would force HUD to align its definition with those used by federal programs for low-income families and vulnerable minors and reduce the requirements for proving homeless status, backers say. Esoteric perhaps and, in the context of a new legislature, an unlikely priority. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has stuck by HUD’s current definition and emphasized services for adults. The president’s Opening Doors plan promises to eliminate veterans’ homelessnessby the end of December, chronic homelessness by 2016, and homelessness among children, families and youth by 2020.

This timetable puts a focus on adult homelessness, said Barbara Duffield, director of policy and programs at the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth and an architect of the HCYA. “HUD has essentially forced communities to prioritize adults over kids.”

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10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving – SATURDAY, JAN 10, 2015 1:00 PM UTC

If Republicans have their way with anti-hunger programs, it’ll get a lot worse before it gets better.

10 cities where an appalling number of Americans are starving
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetHunger is a concept that is often connected with poor developing countries, but it has also become increasingly common in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49.1 million households experienced food insecurity at some point in 2013. On December 11, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released its 32nd Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness. The report covered 25 American cities: 71% said the number of requests for emergency food assistance had increased in the last year, while only 25% said that requests for emergency food assistance had decreased. And 84% of the cities surveyed expected emergency food requests to increase in 2015, but many food banks may not have the resources to meet those requests.

Helene Schneider, mayor of Santa Barbara and co-chair of the Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, warned in the report that Congress will increase hunger in U.S. cities if Republicans defund federal anti-hunger programs; the report found that in eight of the 25 cities, at least 20% of the emergency food being distributed came from federal funding (in Los Angeles, it was 51%). Here are 10 U.S. cities where an appalling number of Americans are going hungry.

1. Memphis

In 2010, a study by the Food Research Action Center declared Memphis to be the hunger capital of the U.S. and found that 26% of its residents had suffered from food insecurity at some point during the previous 12 months. Four years later, Memphis had the worst hunger problem of the 25 cities examined in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ new report: 46% of the requests for emergency food assistance in Tennessee’s largest city—almost half—were being unmet. Food pantries in Memphis are overwhelmed with requests, and according to the report, they are having a hard time “securing funds to purchase the food needed to meet the need.” Unemployment, low wages and poverty were cited as the main causes of hunger in Memphis, where the official unemployment rate is 7.5% and 26.2% of its residents are living below the poverty line. The Conference of Mayors noted that in 2015, “city officials expect requests for food assistance to increase moderately and resources to provide food assistance to decrease moderately.”

2. San Antonio

In the Conference of Mayors’ report, there is both good news and bad news where San Antonio is concerned. The good news is that requests for emergency food assistance in San Antonio have “decreased over the past year by 18%.” But the bad news is that 38% of the requests for emergency food assistance are still going unmet in that Texas city, where the Conference said that the number of homeless families “increased by 19 percent” over the past year. For 2015, city officials expect a “moderate” increase in food requests combined with a “moderate” decrease in the resources to meet them—and almost half of the San Antonio residents facing food insecurity next year are likely to be the working poor. The Conference found that 46% of the people requesting emergency food assistance there were employed.

3. San Francisco

San Francisco has long been one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. Extreme gentrification in the Northern California city has gone from bad to worse in recent years, making it even more difficult to stay afloat without at least an upper-middle-class income. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that of the 25 cities analyzed, San Francisco is among the worst for hunger: 37% of the requests for emergency food assistance in San Francisco went unmet in the last year (compared to 15% in Denver or 10% in Charlotte, NC). Food pantries in the Bay Area are working hard to meet the heavy demand for food assistance: the Mayors Conference reported that the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank Pantry Program feeds, on average, 30,000 households every week and distributed an impressive 30 million pounds of food through its pantry network in 2013. It also fights hunger in San Francisco with an aggressive food stamp outreach that includes special “SNAP in a day” events in which the poor can receive EBT cards the same day they apply for them. But in a city with such a high cost of living, the San Francisco/Marin Food Bank Pantry Program needs a lot more funding. The Conference of Mayors predicts that in 2015, the need for emergency food assistance in San Francisco “will increase substantially” while funding for the city’s anti-hunger programs “will decrease substantially.”

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26 charts and maps that show the world is getting much, much better – by Dylan Matthews on December 29, 2014

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The press — and humans in general — have a strong negativity bias. Bad economic news gets morecoverage than good news. Negative experiences affect people more, and for longer, than positive ones. So it’s natural for things like Russia’s incursion into Ukraine or the rise of ISIS or the Ebola outbreak to weigh on us more than, say, the fact that extreme poverty has fallen by half since 1990, or that life expectancy is increasing, especially in poor countries. But for Thanksgiving it’s worth paying some attention to the latter factors. The world is getting much, much better on a whole variety of dimensions. Here are just a few.

Economic progress

  1. Extreme poverty has fallen

    This is probably the most important chart on this list. The extraordinary rate of economic growth in India and China — as well as slower but still significant growth in other developing countries — has led to a huge decline in the share of the world population living on less than $1.25 a day, from 52 percent in 1981 to 43 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2010. That’s a low bar for what counts as poverty, and some development experts are arguing we should be using a global poverty line of $10-15 a dayinstead, but that very debate is a sign of the tremendous progress made in recent decades.

  2. Hunger is falling

    This animated map shows the Global Hunger Index — a measure of undernutrition calculated by the International Food Policy Research Institute — across the world form 1990 to 2014. Red and orange countries have especially high levels of hunger and undernutrition, while green ones have lower rates. So it’s encouraging to watch the globe gradually get less red and more green over the past 24 years.

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Global warming could udercut efforts to eradicate poverty – November 24, 2014 12:54AM ET

World Bank report finds climate change would cut into crop yields, possibly set back anti-poverty efforts in many areas

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Climate change could undermine efforts to defeat extreme poverty around the globe, the World Bank warned Sunday.

In a new report on the impact of global warming, the bank said sharp temperature rises would cut deeply into crop yields and water supplies in many areas and possibly set back efforts to bring populations out of poverty.

“Climate change poses a substantial and escalating risk to development progress that could undermine global efforts to eliminate extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity,” the report said.

“Without strong, early action, warming could exceed 1.5-2 degrees Celsius and the resulting impacts could significantly worsen intra- and intergenerational poverty in multiple regions across the globe.”

An increase of 2 degrees Celsius is an increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Past and predicted emissions from power plants, factories and cars have locked the globe on a path towards an average temperature rise of almost 2.7 Fahrenheit above pre-industrial times by 2050, it said.

That means that extreme heat events, rising sea levels and more frequent tropical cyclones may now be unavoidable.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, in a telephone news conference on the report, titled “Turn down the Heat, Confronting the New Climate Normal”, called the findings “alarming.”

“Dramatic climate changes and weather extremes are already affecting millions of people around the world, damaging crops and coastlines and putting water security at risk,” Kim wrote in the report.

As examples of extremes, he pointed to the hottest November day in Australia during a recent Group of 20 summit “or the five to six feet of snow that just fell on Buffalo” in the United States.

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