Image of man in front of the field - © Monika Korczewski, LishaBora / EWB Canada

Written by Future of Good

In this third and final installment of our series on organizations working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we look at three groups working on economic justice issues in Canada and abroad.

Three of the UN’s SDGs directly relate to economic justice. Goal 1, No Poverty, is a broad goal with various targets including reducing, by at least half, the number of people living in poverty. According to the UN, about 736 million people still live on less than $1.90 USD a day. In Canada, the poverty line for two adults and two children is an average of $37,500.

SDG 8 is to “achieve full and productive employment, and decent work for all women and men by 2030.” Targets include protecting labour rights and promoting safe and secure working conditions, reducing youth unemployment, and sustaining per capita economic growth of at least seven percent GDP annually in the least developed countries.

Finally, Goal 10 focuses on reduced inequalities. “Income inequality is on the rise—the richest 10 percent have up to 40 percent of global income while the poorest 10 percent earn only between two to seven percent. If we take into account population growth inequality in developing countries, inequality has increased by 11 percent,” the UN states. Lifting people out of poverty will help reduce this gap.

While working towards these economic goals look vastly different depending on geographic location, here are three organizations and Alliance 2030 members working to bring economic justice to the most vulnerable people within Canada and in developing countries.

United Way of Canada

The United Way works across Canada to improve lives and strengthen communities. One of their main focus areas is bringing people out of poverty.

United Way does this by providing stable housing through emergency shelters as a temporary solution and advocating for affordable housing as a long-term solution to unaffordable housing in many Canadian cities. Striving towards food security is also part of the organization’s anti-poverty work, which it does through operating food banks and school breakfast programs. Finally, their economic security plan includes helping people find jobs by providing skills-training programs and various employment services as well as financial literacy programs, to empower people in better managing their personal finances.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada

EWB Canada aims to end poverty and inequality and build a future where everyone has access to the opportunities they need to thrive.

In the African subcontinent, EWB Canada makes long-term investments in social enterprises that have the potential to positively impact people living in poverty. The organization describes how investing in companies from sectors such as water and sanitation services and communications technology are intrinsically linked to fighting poverty. “Ventures can eliminate hunger, they can increase health education, housing infrastructure, employment opportunities, community safety, and access to basic financing,” EWB Canada states.

In addition, EWB Canada is actively involved in advocacy and campaigns in Canada, with an aim to improve development, aid, and policy. Among the organization’s advocacy achievements are successfully convincing Canada to pass the Better Aid Bill (Bill C-293) in 2008 and increasing Canada’s development assistance in 2018.

My Oral Village

My Oral Village is a nonprofit that fights poverty through financial inclusion. An “oral village” is one where most people cannot read or write and the consequences of this are felt by people in poverty. For example, it is more difficult to save effectively or operate a business without financial literacy.

About 1 billion people around the world—the majority of which are women—are illiterate and innumerate. My Oral Village offers people living in poverty the tools, knowledge, and confidence to access financial services. This helps reduce the risk of calculation errors and theft, and allows these marginalized individuals to participate in digital cash initiatives.

“Numeracy has a large and very visible impact on poverty,” the organization explains. “Most of us pay interest to some people while collecting it from others. The oral villager is far more likely to pay it than to collect it.” By explaining concepts like these to people at the bottom of the pyramid, My Oral Village is empowering them to make better financial decisions.