Reducing inequalities within and among countries and groups is a fundamental goal of sustainable development.
Inequality has always been central to development – reducing the gap between the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’ nations is a primary goal for all development practitioners. Along with these horizontal inequalities between states, it is prominent between groups such as ethnicity or race, vertical inequalities within countries or groups are also paramount to sustainable development. The philosophy of ‘Leave No One Behind’ that underpins Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals attempts to address the issue of inequality.
Inequality persists all over the world, threatening long-term social and economic development. Disparities in human development can be seen throughout variations in income, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, religion, and opportunity. They can also be seen across regions, across states, and across cities and towns.
For example, an estimated 69 million children under five years of age will die from mostly preventable causes. Rural women are three times more likely to die while giving birth than women in urban centres. Persons with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, and 80 per cent of them live in developing countries. Women and girls with disabilities face double discrimination.
Reducing inequality requires transformative change. Greater efforts are needed by all stakeholders to help with the eradication of poverty and hunger, and more needs to be invested in health, education, social protection and decent jobs – no matter what background someone belongs to. Within countries, economic growth needs to be inclusive – it is not enough to consider GDP per capita alone. We can ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of income if we eliminate discriminatory laws, policies and practices. Among countries, we need to ensure that developing countries are better represented in decision-making on global issues so that solutions can be more effective, credible and accountable.
Government and Multilateral Publications
- UN 'Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' (2015)
- UNDP 'What Does it Mean to Leave No One Behind?' (2018)
- UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs 'Inequality and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' (2015)
- Reducing Inequalities: A Sustainable Development Challenge
- The Role of Inequality in the Sustainable Development Goals (2015)
- ODI 'Defining 'Leave No One Behind' (2017)