Important facts of a failed global development

 A few facts:

  • More than 3 billion people are living in poverty (2015) with an income of less than 2.5 Dollar per day (more than 40% of the world population); More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty – on less than 1.25 Dollar per day; most of those are located in urban slums or impoverished rural areas.[1] About 830 million people live in slums, often lacking adequate water and sanitation services.[2]
  • In the year 2015 around 800 million people[3] throughout the world are suffering from permanent and chronic malnutrition (hunger), while 2.1 billion people are overweight (30% of world population)[4]; Starvation and its impacts are the primary cause of death worldwide – every year more people die of hunger than of Malaria, Tuberculosis and Aids together;[5] Over 3 million children under five die every year from malnutrition and its consequences.[6]
  • Every fourth human being is forced to drink contaminated water.[7] Every year over 3.5 million human beings, 600.000 of which are children, die from the effects of contaminated drinking water, lacking hygiene and sanitary problems[8] – while 12% of the world’s population (exclusively in industrial nations) consume 85% of the clean drinking water.
  • Treatable illnesses kill more annually than 14 million human beings, of which 6 million children under 5 years of age, because of lack of (economic) access to medical care.[9]
  • 760 million adults and 115 million youth are illiterate; [10] 124 million school-age children have no access to schooling or have already abandoned it. [11]


  • Worldwide arms expenditure in 2014 amounted to more than 1770 billion dollars per year (of which the USA accounted for 34%);[12] the UN estimates (2009) that 800 billion dollars (57% of the global arms expenditure for a single year) would be sufficient to ensure access to a basic education, medical care, sufficient nutrition, drinking water and a sanitary infrastructure for every human being within a decade.
  • The official development aid of the wealthiest nations of the world (OECD) in 2013 amounted to 135 billion dollar[13], of which just 40 billion were earmarked for the least developed countries (2% of the annual global expenditure on arms for the same year) – with a further declining trend.[14]
  • The foreign debt of the developing and emerging countries currently amounts to 5.4 trillion US dollars and rising steadily – due to high debt services many countries cannot ensure even the basic needs of their populations – also this contributing to growing poverty.[15]


  • Retreat of the state and of democratic governance, coupled with the globally enforced trend towards oligopolistic privatisation (and thus the commercialisation) of basic social domains: drinking water, the genome, education, healthcare, information and communications systems, energy sources, transportation, personal security, police and the military.
  • The 300 largest transnational corporations control 25% of the gross national product of the planet, yet they employ less than 5% of the global workforce;[16] their accumulated wealth is greater than the total assets of the 133 poorest countries in the world. 37 of the 100 largest „economies“ are transnational corporations and thus larger than nations.[17]
  • The at present roughly 1800 billionaires in the world possess wealth estimated at more than 6.5 trillion dollars or 8.5% of the global gross national product (GNP) [18], while 71% of the world population represent just 3% of global wealth.[19] The 62 richest persons on the world owned as much wealth in 2015 as 3.5 million people (roughly half of the world population). In other words, the richest 1% have more wealth than the rest of the world together, and will also in the future generate even more wealth, while the wealth of the poor half of the world stagnates; [20] The share of the 49 poorest countries in global trade and global income amounts to 0.5% and 1% respectively.
  • Over 200 million people are unemployed[21] worldwide plus around 1 billion so-called working poor[22] who earn the equivalent of less than two US dollars per day; 1.5 billion are in “vulnerable” employment (bad working conditions, no legal and social security)[23]. At the same time, more than 170 million children are working under conditions akin to slavery[24] – 85 million carrying out hazardous work.[25]
  • It is estimated that 21 to 36 million people are enslaved worldwide, generating US$ 150 billion each year in illicit profits for traffickers; Labour slavery – about 78% toil in forced labor slavery in industries where manual labor is needed, such as farming, ranching, logging, mining, fishing, brick making, and in service industries working as dish washers, janitors, gardeners, and maids; Sex slavery – about 22% are trapped in forced prostitution; Child slavery – about 26% of today’s slaves are children.[26]


  • Due to global deforestation, every day around 356 million square metres of forests are lost; the equivalent of around 35 football fields per minute[27] – more than 80% of the primeval forest has been destroyed.[28] The production of paper tissues and toilet paper alone is responsible for the felling of around 270,000 trees per day (only a tiny proportion of which are grown on plantations). An area of forest equivalent to the size of Greece disappears annually from the earth’s surface.
  • Deserts, which already cover around one third of the earth’s surface, are spreading with accelerating rapidity especially as a result of the human economic activity: 70,000 km² of land, the equivalent of an agricultural area the size of Ireland, are lost every year to deserts.[29]
  • Caused by climate change and by unsustainable land-use practices like overgrazing, deforestation and burning, more than 250 million people worldwide directly suffer the effects of desertification, and another 1.2 billion in 110 countries are threatened by such degradation of otherwise arable and habitable land.[30]
  • 95% of the basic human diet ultimately depends on arable land, which is shrinking worldwide by more than 12 million hectares (120,000 km² – an area half the size of UK) per year due to soil erosion. Thus, the chance is lost to produce 20 million tons of cereals. Soil erosion caused by human activity over the past 40 years has contributed to the fact that 30% of arable land worldwide has become unproductive and 52% is moderately or highly degenerated.[31]
  • Every year around 400 million tonnes of non-biodegradable toxic waste is produced worldwide[32] and 25 million barrels (1 barrel = 159 litres) of oil-based substances pollute the world’s oceans (through accidents or illegal dumping) annually.
  • We produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year, equivalent to the combined weight of all the adult humans on earth[33]; There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s oceans, and each year, 8 million tons of plastic are added to the count.[34]


 Overpopulation – In 2016, according to the UN the world’s population had reached the number of 7.4 billion. In 2050, the number will increase far above nine billion (the highest growth coming from developing and emerging countries) – by the year 2100, the total number of people could even reach over 11 billion. Such a development confronts humankind with enormous tasks, because with the sheer numbers also grow consumption of goods and services, energy demand, the number of cars, the amount of waste, and the scarcity of resources (inter alia water, arable land) and risks of wars rise dramatically too. In rich countries however, where the population numbers are slightly declining in some cases, the societies worry about their retirement security and the survival of the social systems. If nothing changes in the today habits of the people, the world population in 2050 would need three earths to meet their needs (especially food, consumer goods and housing).[35]

 [1] United Nations Development Programme. Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. Human Development Report, 2014.


[3] (2015)

[4] (2014)

[5] (2013)

[6] (2013)

[7] WHO/UNICEF (2014): Progress on drinking-water and sanitation – 2014 update. Geneva, World Health Organization. (2014)

[8] (2016)

[9] (2014)

[10] (2015)

[11] (2013)

[12] (2014)

[13] (2013)

[14] (2014)


[16] (2013)

[17] (2014)

[18] (2016)

[19] (2015)

[20] (2016)

[21]–en/index.htm (2015)

[22] (2012)


[24] World_Report_on_Child_Labour_EN_Final_Web.pdf (2015)

[25]–en/index.htm (2013)

[26] and

[27] (2013)

[28] (2012)

[29] (2012)


[31] (2014)

[32] (2016)