Some 25 towns and cities across Switzerland are hosting special events to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
According to the World Bank, 1.4 billion people live in absolute poverty, surviving on less than $1.25 (SFr1.42) per day.
Amnesty International, one of the organisers of the Swiss events, said that the global financial crisis would hit the poorest people of the world the hardest, condemning many millions more to poverty.
A Swiss alliance of non-governmental organisations called 0.7% - Together Against Poverty is collecting signatures for a petition, which wants Switzerland to make a stronger commitment towards reaching the UN's Millennium Development Goals.
Poverty is also a concern in Switzerland, albeit on a different scale. According to the Federal Statistics Office, some 380,000 people live below the poverty line.