UN report reveals growing inequality

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will remain a pipe dream in 2030 unless the widening gap between the richest and poorest in society is reversed. 

That is according to the UN’s recent World Social Report 2020, Inequality in a Rapidly Changing World, which reveals that inequality is growing for 70% of the global population, even in most developed countries.

Climate change is one of four key “megatrends” exacerbating disparities and divisions worldwide, along with technological innovation, migration and urbanisation.However, the researchers said this is “far from inevitable”, with the transition to a low-carbon economy, for example, potentially resulting in net employment gains.

The technological revolution also has the potential to create winners and losers, with some seeing their job opportunities increase while others are replaced by automation.

UN secretary general António Guterres said that these trends must be harnessed to create “a more equitable and sustainable world”, and that failure to do so will divide us further. “Income disparities and a lack of opportunities are creating a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration and discontent across generations,” he continued.

“Unless progress accelerates, the core promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to leave no one behind – will remain a still distant goal by 2030.”

The report reveals that the richest 1% of the population increased their share of income between 1990 and 2015, while the bottom 40% earned less than a quarter of all income. There also remain “stark differences” between the richest and poorest countries, with the average income in North America 16 times higher than it is in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Universal access to education, further unemployment and disability benefits, and legislation that tackles prejudice while promoting the participation of disadvantaged groups are recommended strategies. However, while action at a national level is crucial, the report declares that “concerted, coordinated and multilateral action” is needed to tackle the major challenges driving inequality.

Guterres outlined his priorities for a “decade of action” and called on all stakeholders to provide their recommendations on how to best deliver the SDGs in time. “The World Social Report 2020 frames the debate on how to curb inequality in these turbulent times. Together, we must challenge the status quo and take action to tackle deep-seated, as well as emerging, inequalities once and for all.”

Read the report here: bit.ly/2SeDCVU

Image credit | Getty
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