Equity and Inclusion
Over the last two decades many developing countries have attained higher levels of economic growth, positioning themselves as new emerging economies. However, this growth has been accompanied by a significant increase of disparities across economic, social, political and intergenerational domains. In this respect, the achievements of some MDGs have been revealed to be less exciting when data have been disaggregated and the MDGs delinked one from the other.
Despite higher growth and improved education levels, poverty has neither been eradicated nor significantly reduced. Growth is accompanied by unprecedented levels of undernourishment and hunger, perpetration and multiplication of civil wars and terrorism, not to mention the never-ending flows of refugees and migrants moving out of their countries in search of a decent life. Whilst a ‘new middle class’ is apparently thriving worldwide, hundreds of millions of people are victims of either stagnation or disruption.
Today, disparities unfold horizontally. Injustice and discriminations are developing in clusters, cutting across national boundaries and societies. We can, to some extent, talk about transnational inequalities which develop along transnational routes of business, trade, and finance, with the result of a multiplication of violations, abuses and injustices in a space that is almost completely unregulated. Suffice it to say that for each dollar of ODA reaching African countries, three dollars leave Africa as illicit financial flows (IFF).
Inequalities are not only a contemporary phenomenon and can be tracked back across history, it is commonly acknowledged within large portions of civil society and the public worldwide, that the way capitalism and globalization have unfolded has led to more inequality than before, within and among countries. As such, the call for a new paradigm and a different development model is becoming ever more strident. As a result, the new development agenda 2030 incorporated a renewed approach that seeks to be people centered, universal and transformative. However, the implementation of its goals and targets risks becoming a further burden for taxpayers, in the absence of new financial commitments and of progressive reforms of national tax systems towards equity and economic justice.
A combination of budget cuts and chronic inefficiency within the public sector is pushing institutions to look increasingly at private resources. Both the Agenda 2030 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for Financing for Development (considered the foundation for the SDGs implementation) are based on the logic of public-private partnerships, despite the cautions about the unfair allocation of costs (to the public sector) vs benefits (to private actors).
Health, food security, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, housing, access to land and natural resources (to mention a few) are increasingly being framed – even within the international policy making circles – as needs rather than rights. The result is a strong push towards privatization and market oriented solutions which are unlikely to contribute to ‘leaving no one behind’. On the contrary, disparities will deepen between the haves and have-nots.
SID approach and contribution
Inequalities, equity and inclusion are key areas of concern for SID’s policy oriented dialogue and research. Through its multidisciplinary approach SID, links together different themes and areas of policy engagement such as food security and nutrition, sustainable agricultural and industrial transformations, women’s rights and gender equality, public participation, democracy and responsive governance.
The multiple nature of inequalities as well as the related environmental and sustainability challenges that impact on people and society today can be properly understood only by using a multidimensional approach that takes into account the multiple domains (political, social, economic) and the multiple dimensions (horizontally across social groups; vertically within each domain; spatially across locations; inter-generationally across generations) through which inequalities manifest themselves.
SID’s work and contribution on inequalities combines an analysis of inclusion together with an analysis of equity. Most development action today foresees greater levels of inclusion without allowing for more equity (i.e.: despite having a job, people’s welfare conditions are not improved and labour rights are not recognized and respected). The over-hyped growth performance of many emerging economies (in most cases export oriented and driven by foreign investments) does not allow for inclusion or equity. Wealth does not trickle down to local people and communities, but is rather remains captive within the transnational business space and by local elites who collaborate with them.
Through its work on inequalities SID seeks to identify and analyze the forces that impede policy intervention from tackling inequities and inequalities today and encourages the search for genuine paths of socio economic transformation that will lead to greater equality, inclusion and equity.
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