In response to Pope Francis’s address to the United Nation General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on September 2015, Fordham IPED students began working on a basic human needs assessment tool that measures the basic requirements for human dignity put forward by Pope Francis. As outlined in his address, the basic requirements for human dignity were divided into two groups: basic material goods and spiritual well-being. Under the direction of IPED Director Prof. Henry Schwalbenberg, the students identified the indicators that best captures what Pope Francis intends to assess. Seven indicators of human development were included: access to water, food, housing, employment, education, gender equality, and religious freedom. Collectively, these 7 indicators create the Fordham’s Pope Francis Global Poverty Index (Fordham-Francis Index or FFI)
The FFI is envisioned to be the poverty measurement tool that will provide a comprehensive and straightforward assessment of inclusive poverty alleviation. It is hoped that various actors in civil society, particularly Catholic organizations in the developing world, will be able to use the FFI to judge the international community’s success in implementing the UN’s New Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Last April 21, the students presented their results at the Building Good Economies conference held at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus. Their results were able to confirm the relevance and comprehensiveness of the FFI indicators. Regression analysis revealed that the seven primary indicators are strongly correlated with key development indicators. Additionally, they found religious freedom to be an innovative addition that had yet to be captured by existing indices.
We look forward to sharing more developments as future student teams update and refine the Pope Francis Global Poverty Index.