IsDB Hosts High-Level Panel on Future of Multidimensional Poverty Measurement

Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 27 April 2024 - The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) hosted a high-level side event during its 2024 Annual Meetings, titled "A Pathway to Prosperity: Multidimensional Poverty in IsDB Member Countries."

The high-level panel brought together leading policymakers and poverty experts to explore multidimensional poverty globally and in IsDB member countries and showcase success stories in tackling poverty. It was also an opportunity to announce the IsDB-OPHI initiative to develop a new Multidimensional Poverty Index for IsDB member countries.

IsDB Group Chief Economist Dr. Areef Suleman highlighted the current poverty challenges in IsDB member countries and around the world. He emphasized that the focus is not about lamenting the state of poverty, but rather exploring the pathways to prosperity and changing the narrative.

Prof. Sabina Alkire, Director of Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at the University of Oxford, stressed the data challenges and the importance of tackling poverty in all its dimensions. She also highlighted the need to have a policy tool tailored to the needs and context of poor countries.

Dr. Abdallah Al Dardari, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for the Arab States, underlined the importance of MPI as a policy tool in fragile and conflict-affected regions and its role to better target poverty alleviation interventions.

The acting Director General of the IsDB Institute, Dr. Sami Al Suwailem, emphasized that the MPI is a very appealing concept in line with the principles of Islam meant to promote prosperity and fight deprivation. Islamic finance, particularly Zakat and awqaf,  offers a decentralized approach to address multiple dimensions of poverty, which could be very useful in fragile and conflict-affected contexts.

Ms. María del Pilar Garrido Gonzalo, Director for Development Co-operation at the OECD, asserted that MPI could be very instrumental in identifying the needs of the poor and better allocate limited resources to the people most in need. MPI is useful to determine which policy tool is more appropriate to a specific context. Moreover, ensuring debt sustainability and prioritizing social welfare-enhancing targeted interventions is becoming crucial.

Mr. Ignacio Corlazzoli Hughes, Manager for Resource Mobility and Global Alliances, Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, shared the experience of Latin America, one of the poorest and most unequal regions in the world, and emphasized the need for multilateral development banks (MDBs) to better coordinate and target their interventions, and focus more on the social aspects of development.

At the end of the session, Dr. Sami Al Suwailem announced a new IsDB-OPHI initiative to develop a new MPI designed specifically for IsDB member countries. The new initiative is expected to improve our understanding of moderate forms of poverty and design targeted policy interventions to address multiple dimensions of poverty in IsDB member countries.

The event was concluded with questions from the audience.