The Group of 77 (G-77) held a high-level interactive dialogue on ‘Inclusive development and inequality within and among countries.’ G-77 Chair Mohammad Shtayyeh (Palestine) said that addressing climate and environmental challenges and building people’s resilience must be integral components of a policy agenda that aims to achieve more inclusive and more sustainable economies and societies.
In his opening remarks, Shtayyeh stressed that the “fight against inequality should leave no country, no one behind.” Despite the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he reflected, inequalities remain pervasive and intersect with each other, with climate change, natural resource degradation, rapid urbanization, large-scale migration and displacement, and fast-changing and new technologies compounding challenges. Shtayyeh highlighted renewed partnerships and renewed commitments from the international community as a way to provide development finance, ensure fair access to technology, knowledge and trade, and create enabling economic and financial polices to achieve inclusive development and reduce inequalities within and between countries.
Shtayyeh said the challenge is “not so much about what needs to be done, but how to do it.” He called for resource mobilization to ensure sustained public investments in education and skills development, creating enabling environments for business and entrepreneurship, and promoting labor policies that foster decent jobs, particularly for women and youth, combined with effective, inclusive social protection systems.
When we look beyond averages, we see growing distances between elites and the bulk of the population.
In his remarks, Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Development Programme (UNDP), observed that basic indicators show that inequality in human development is decreasing, as expressed by decreasing extreme poverty, falling infant mortality, progress towards universal primary education and access to basic mobile technologies. However, “when we look beyond averages,” he cautioned, “we see a growing distances between elites and the bulk of the population” in terms of income, quality of education and health systems, and access to the newest technologies. Dieye said UNDP will focus its next three Human Development Reports (HDRs) on accelerating the reduction of inequalities.
Dieye highlighted “two major sets of hurdles” to reducing inequality. First, he noted the need for global coordination among governments, to address asymmetries and imbalances in global governance and set up rules that bring greater inclusion, including a global tax governance system to handle illicit financial flows, an accelerated transfer of technologies, and protection of the human rights of migrants. Dieye called for climate action that helps countries delink economic growth from a carbon-emission dependent model, and a global response that is inclusive, just and leaves no one behind while delivering growth and protecting the environment.
Second, Dieye urged addressing gaps in in-country governance, underscoring the importance of national-level action to fight discrimination and remove structural barriers to individuals and social groups. He highlighted the importance of promoting women’s political and economic empowerment, and supporting equal pay and decent work and property and inheritance rights, including access and control of land, in disrupting inequalities. He concluded by calling for accelerated efforts to realize the ten targets of SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).
In the ensuing discussion, G-77 delegations echoed concerns about growing inequality, stressing that development that is not truly inclusive will not be sustainable. Member States also reiterated that climate change and environmental degradation exacerbate inequality, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable.
Inclusive development, reducing inequalities and leaving no one behind are at the center of several high-level meetings in 2019, including the 57th session of the UN Commission on Social Development (CSocD), taking place from 11-21 February, the 2019 session of the UN Economic and Social Council, and the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The HLPF will also conduct a review of progress in implementing SDG 10.