New ‘Getting to Zero’ report urges structural reforms to end poverty, climate change and loss of natural assets ahead of UN meeting on SDG progress

Ahead of the UN’s High-level Political Forum in New York (11-20 July), a new report by the Poverty Environment Partnership (PEP), demands structural reform to end extreme poverty, climate change and loss of environmental assets in the next 15 years.

The report, Getting to Zero, shows how linking poverty, environment and climate change issues are central to the 2015 agreements and should no longer be marginalised.  It sets out a triple vision for reducing extreme poverty to zero, net greenhouse gas emissions to zero and net loss of natural assets to zero backed up by 4 key reforms necessary to achieving this. It emphasises that urgent action is required now to achieve the necessary structural reform enabling poor countries to take the 17 integrated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to scale.

Issuing its four-part call to action, the report recommends:

  1. Increased empowerment and rights for women and men suffering extreme poverty – giving them the chance to control their future
  2. Integrated institutions – too much environment, poverty and climate policy planning is done in silos – stronger bridges between individual organisations involved
  3. Inclusive finance and business – a total reform of business and financial mechanisms and rules, recognising stakeholders not just shareholders, long-term outcomes not just share prices
  4. New messages and metrics – changing the narrative and business cases used in poverty, environment and climate policies to galvanise action, inclusion and measuring real progress

Paul Steele, Chief Economist, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and PEP Coordinator says that “There has been concerns that 17 SDGs are a lot to remember.   Getting to Zero provides a clear and simple message for reaching integrated development that ends poverty, climate change and loss of natural assets.   It puts the needs of people in poverty at the front and in the centre of country implementation plans whilst highlighting the urgent structural reforms needing to be tackled.”

Commenting on why this report matters ahead of the UN meeting focussing on countries plans to implement the SDGs, Matti Nummelin, Senior Environmental Adviser, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Chair of OECD/DAC/ENVIRONET, said, “I’m delighted that so many environment and development experts from developed and developing countries have produced this timely report.  Getting to Zero clearly makes the case for showing how environmental actions are deeply integrated into the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and whole Agenda 2030”.

Daniele Ponzi, Technical Advisor (Environment) at the Asian Development Bank, explained, “The Asian Development Bank welcomes the publication of Getting to Zero with its triple vision of "zero poverty, zero net carbon emissions, zero net natural capital loss." Addressing the links between environment, climate change and poverty will be crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific. With our own strategy supporting inclusive, environmentally sustainable growth, ADB will continue to support forward-looking and high-impact interventions where no one is left behind.”

Notes to editors:

  • The report redefines the poverty, environment and climate narrative around 5 key messages: i) income equality, the poor who depend most on natural assets are the most vulnerable to climate change; ii) however, they are often able to manage the environment sustainably if governance/ market conditions are conducive; iii) where policy has linked poverty, environment and climate problems and these have improved (a little), progress is slow due to lack of enabling conditions; iv) dismantling the structural barriers that have held poor countries back from reducing poverty alongside good environment management is key; v) the 2015 climate and SDG agreements now offer a policy mandate and opportunities for action to achieve structural reform for scaling up local-level innovations and projects
  • The report will be formally launched at the High-level Political Forum, New York, on the 13 July, 1.30pm and organised by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.  Panellists from the  north and global south will be discussing how to integrate SDG implementation through global partnerships that enable both south-south and south-north learning
  • The Poverty Environment Partnership was established after the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Goals.  It is an informal network of development agencies seeking to improve the coordination of poverty reduction – for more information visit

Interviews and media enquiries contact:

Sue Broome (UK) 07976 619839 email

IIED experts presenting at the High-level Political Forum event in New York include: Andrew Norton, Director; Paul Steele, Chief Economist; Essam Yassin Mohammed, Senior Researcher; Stefano D’Errico, Monitoring & Evaluation Manager.

Poverty Environment Partnership