Background and statement of need

The expiration of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015 creates a focal point of opportunity for academics to impact global poverty policy by playing a leading role in shaping their successors.

The main advantage that we have as academics in influencing this process stems from our authority as experts. However, this authority is often undermined by the fact that we appear to disagree sharply with one another. It is hard to argue that policy makers should listen to the experts when the experts appear to diverge widely.

We believe that while there is real disagreement among the experts there is much more overlapping consensus on what can and ought to be done to alleviate global poverty than would appear on the surface.

This project aims to address this problem by identifying and clearly articulating that consensus which lies beneath the surface of academic disagreement on global poverty alleviation in a way that is accessible to policy makers and suitable for framing and directly feeding into the MDG replacement process.


The report, henceforth the Global Poverty Consensus Report (GPCR), will aim to articulate some of the most important normative and factual statements on which there is broad overlapping consensus among academics from different disciplines, approaches, and places in a way that will be accessible to policy makers.

The report will include a section dedicated to those general statements that can be endorsed by global poverty academics as such, and several disciplinary sections dedicated to issues that fall under the purview of specialized fields such as economics, moral and political philosophy, global health, etc.

We aim to have the report signed by as many global poverty experts as possible.

We do not expect to find a unanimous consensus. There will be a trade-off between how specific and substantive we can get and how many experts would be willing to sign the report.  The content of the report should represent an optimal trade-off among:

1. Substantiveness.

2. Wide consensus.

3. Political and economic feasibility.


How to identify overlapping consensus?

Dialogue: we will conduct an open dialogue which is explicitly aimed at identifying points of overlapping consensus. Such a dialogue ought to be as inclusive as possible, in terms of discipline, approach and geography. We can facilitate this dialogue through ASAP conferences and workshops, through the (forthcoming) interactive ASAP website and through a representative committee of academic leaders with input from civil-society and international organizations.

Literature review: a methodical literature review will allow us to locate less salient points of overlapping consensus and to get a more precise assessment on the extent of agreement on key issues.

Analysis: using a variety of methods, including the tools provided by the social sciences and humanities, we can establish what ought to be met with overlapping consensus based on an acquaintance with the main contending positions and the information gathered from the discussions and literature review.

Value Added

There are already several important efforts led by members of academia, civil society and international organizations to shape the successors of the MDGs.

The GPCR is not intended to compete but to complement these other efforts. Throughout the process we will seek to coordinate closely with other organizations to ensure that the MDG replacement process is as globally inclusive and effective as it can be and we will draw on the good work done by the best and most qualified organizations working on the topic.

What we mean to add to the process is:

1. The comparative advantages and skills that come from our unique character as an organization made up of poverty-focused academics from diverse disciplines.

2. A methodical academic investigation of the overlapping consensus shared by the different approaches that will emerge in the process leading to 2015.

3. A multi-disciplinary approach to global poverty, bringing together the expertise of the empirical social sciences and the expertise of political and moral theory.

4. An inclusive process of deliberation that will represent both a diversity of academic approaches and disciplines and the voices and interests of the global poor.

5. The authority of a report endorsed through signatures of a significant percentage of global poverty experts from diverse disciplines, approaches and places.