In a letter to the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and the World Bank president, Ajay Banga, the signatories from 67 countries call on the two bodies to do more to reverse the sharpest increase in global inequality since the second world war. Their conviction is that failure to tackle the widening gulf between the world’s rich and poor will entrench poverty and increase the risk of climate breakdown, a group of more than 200 leading economists have said.
Reducing inequality by 2030 was one of the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) agreed by the international community in 2015. The letter says urgent action is needed in light of the differing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rich and poor.
Arguing that rising inequality has been “largely ignored”, the letter says the current means for assessing progress in tackling the problem – faster income growth for the poorest 40% than for the population as a whole – fails to take account of the concentration of income and wealth among the super-rich.
For the first time in a quarter of a century, global poverty and extreme wealth have been rising simultaneously, the letter says. The letter demands better measurement of inequality and more ambitious targets for narrowing income and wealth gaps.
“The richest 10% of the global population currently takes 52% of global income, whereas the poorest half of the population earns 8.5% of it. Billions of people face the terrible hardship of high and rising food prices and hunger, whilst the number of billionaires has doubled in the last decade.”
When Guterres reviewed the 2030 goals in April, he found inequality at a record high, with only 10% of countries on track to meet the target.
The signatories state that tackling inequality is not a standalone goal and that all economic, financial, and social policies should be assessed in terms of their probable impact on it. “This would clearly signal our collective ambition to forge a more equal world”.
See Guardian Newspaper article – Top economists call for action Link to the letters HERE
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition (10 July 2023) provides a powerful call to action, presenting a candid assessment of the SDGs based on the latest data and estimates. While highlighting the existing gaps and urging the world to redouble its efforts, the report also emphasizes the immense potential for success through strong political will and the utilization of available technologies, resources, and knowledge. Together, the global community can reignite progress towards achieving the SDGs and create a brighter future for all.
According to the report, the impacts of the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, a weak global economy, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed weaknesses and hindered progress towards the Goals. The report further warns that while lack of progress is universal, it is the world’s poorest and most vulnerable who are experiencing the worst effects of these unprecedented global challenges. It also points out areas that need urgent action to rescue the SDGs and deliver meaningful progress for people and the planet by 2030.
This report calls for ambitious national benchmarks to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality, focusing on key areas: expanding social protection and decent jobs; tackling the crisis in education; addressing gender inequality; and improving digital inclusion. These shifts must be supported by strengthened national institutions, greater accountability, effective regulatory frameworks and stronger digital infrastructure and data capacity. All of this requires strengthened multilateral cooperation and support for the United Nations development system. Most of all, it requires ambitious, decisive, committed action at the SDG Summit in September and the Summit of the Future next year.
We are at a moment of truth and reckoning. But together, we can make this a moment of hope. I urge all Member States to make 2023 the moment when we jump-start progress on the SDGs, to create a more peaceful and prosperous future for all. (António Guterres Secretary-General of the United Nations).
Note: The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023: Special Edition is the only UN official report that monitors global progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Using the latest available data and estimates, the report provides a comprehensive midpoint assessment of the 2030 Agenda, highlighting not only impacts of multiple crises affecting people’s lives and livelihoods, but also areas of progress where acceleration is needed. This annual SDG Report is prepared by UN DESA, in collaboration with the entire UN Statistical System, consisting of more than 50 international and regional agencies, based on data from over 200 countries and territories.