UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon warned on Monday that gains made to free people from poverty are in jeopardy unless relevant investments were stepped up.
"We have made great progress but today those gains are in doubt, " Ban said in a message marking the day which is observed annually on Oct. 17.
Warning that too many people are living in fear of losing their jobs and supporting their families, he said it was critical to put people at the center of developmental polices and strategies.
"We can meet the challenges we face -- the economic crisis, climate change, rising costs of food and energy, the effects of natural disasters," Ban said. "We can overcome them by putting people at the center of our work."
He said that too often in the debates surrounding the future, three groups are missing -- the poor, the young and the planet.
"As we work to avoid a global financial meltdown, we must also work to avoid a global development meltdown," Ban said. "In the name of fiscal austerity, we can not cut back on common-sense investments in people."
He urged that now is the "time to push harder to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," a set of eight anti-poverty targets to be reached by 2015.
"Together, let us listen to people -- and stand up for their hopes and aspirations," Ban said. "That is how we will build a world free of poverty."
Observed annually since 1993, the day was established by the UN General Assembly to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution in all countries, particularly in developing countries. This year's theme -- "Working together out of poverty" -- highlights the need for a truly global anti-poverty alliance.