Most of the world’s poorest people live in the Tropics. Eradicating global poverty, ending hunger and building sustainable communities are central to the international agenda and essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Unfortunately progress has slowed prior to 2020 and it is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 will have far reaching impacts and potential reverse progress.

Colonial Histories

The vast majority of countries in the Tropics have, at some point in their histories been subjected to colonisation and despite large scale decolonisation in the second half of the 20th century, the impacts continue to be felt. Exploitation, extraction and appropriation of colonized countries’ resources have shaped economies based on agrarian or resource extraction with a large, underpaid workforce. Current systems of globalisation ensure these countries are often unable to compete internationally without external support in the form of aid or investment. Additionally, national borders, drawn by colonising countries, often contribute to complex cultural conditions that can exacerbate conflict. Thus, poverty persists.

In many cases, wealthy countries outside of the Tropics, particularly in Europe and North America, remain the beneficiaries of colonialism and have played a significant role, both in created the economic and political conditions structure that perpetuate extreme poverty, and in contributing the most to the climate crisis disproportionately affecting poor people in the Tropics.