Inequality: new UN Report places emphasis on inequality and explains how more inclusive growth could be pushed – at a Global level – by the future MDGs
  • March 27, 2013

The U.N. Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) released this morning the report called “Inclusive Future – Inequality, Inclusive Growth and the post-2015 Development Framework”. The report draws on the event convened by UNCDF - in cooperation with UN-DESA and UNDP - in New York on March 7th, 2013. The event brought together senior representatives from six UN agencies, from national governments as well as from organizations as diverse as OECD,, Oxfam, Citi, Urban Institute, UCLG, London School of Economics and more.

The Millennium Declaration in 2000 was a milestone in international cooperation inspiring coordinated effort to improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. World leaders are now reviewing progress to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and discussing what could be the ‘goals’ that will guide global development efforts after 2015. The ongoing consultations on the post-2015 development framework have entered a crucial phase and concerns to address ‘inequality’ and promote inclusive growth within a new framework for development have emerged as two major, cross-cutting issues.

‘Inequality within countries has been a long-standing feature of human societies. Yet, the magnitude, complexity and scope of the deterioration observed in the last 30 years make it stand apart” said Shamshad Akhtar, Assistant-Secretary-General for Economic Development (United Nations).

According to the report ‘important progress towards the MDGs has been made on many fronts since 2000, despite significant setbacks due to the recent economic downturn, food and energy crises. However, progress towards the MDGs is highly uneven across and within regions and countries.’

In many countries, only a small part of the population has been able to take advantage of economic growth. As a result of these development dynamics, the economies of many developing countries remain concentrated in few urban centers, characterized by a narrow base and highly vulnerable to external shocks.

The report explains the different types of inequality and the critical burden they place on growth and development, including inequality between rich and poor, between urban and rural and between men and women, across both the developed and developing world. ‘A key challenge for the future is to restore ‘the social elevator’, to promote reforms that can give opportunities to everyone, particularly in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs)’ said Jean-Francis R. Zinsou, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Benin to the United Nations.

The report highlights the need to promote financial inclusion as a means to tackle inequality: ‘Improved access to finance is not only pro-growth, but also pro-poor, reducing income inequality and poverty’ states the report. Also, emphasis is placed on the potential of ICTs to foster digital inclusion and ultimately more inclusive growth: ‘As mobile banking has shown, technology is a key tool to level the playing field’.

UNCDF’s ‘Inclusive Future’ report concludes that inequality should and could be integrated into the post-2015 development framework for economic, social, political and ethical reasons. The goal of addressing inequality and fostering inclusive growth could be reflected in the post-2015 development framework in various ways, ranging from the definition of a stand-alone goal to the mainstreaming of pertinent indicators across the future global goals to measure the degree of ‘inclusiveness’ of growth and development.