What are the challenges for making more fair economies?
- Despite significant progress over the past decades, we are a long way from ending extreme poverty by 2030 and achieving many other goals.
- COVID-19 has set back progress in reducing poverty, hunger and inequality.
- The climate crisis threatens to deepen divisions.
- The Forum’s annual Sustainable Development Impact Summit, to be held September 20-23, will take stock of progress in achieving the United Nations SDGs.
After decades of progress in tackling poverty, life expectancy and income inequality, COVID-19 has set us back – resulting in the first increase in extreme poverty in a generation. At the same time, the pandemic has increased hunger, food insecurity and unemployment, while life expectancy dropped, including in some of the richest countries in the world.
However, these trends began even before the pandemic, with 650 million people going hungry, 2 billion food insecure and the rate of poverty reduction slowing.
Permanent and temporary social protection programs helped fill the gaps, but they were not enough: only 46.9% of the world’s population was actually covered by at least one social protection cash benefit in 2020, “leaving up to 4 billion people without a social safety net, ”says the UN report on the 2021 Sustainable Development Goals.
In this context, the Forum is convening its Virtual Summit on the impact of sustainable development 2021 from September 20 to 23.
The recovery is underway – for some. “It took only nine months for the fortunes of the first 1,000 billionaires to return to their pre-pandemic peaks, while for the world’s poorest recovery could take more than a decade,” Oxfam says . Meanwhile, by August 2021, just over 1% of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated, compared to 51% in high-income countries – which not only illustrates the reality of inequality, but also puts all the blame. world, rich and poor, at risk.
Inequality has generalized effects: “The social and economic consequences of inequality are deep and far-reaching: a growing feeling of injustice, precariousness, a perception of loss of identity and dignity, the weakening of social fabric, erosion of trust in institutions, disenchantment with political processes and an erosion of the social contract, ”said Forum founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab in the Global Social Mobility Index 2020.
And climate change and its disproportionate impact on the world’s most vulnerable threatens to make it worse. “Disasters and their immediate impacts threaten to reverse development gains and slow down poverty reduction and hunger reduction,” says the UN progress report. If we don’t take action on the climate, expect divisions to widen, especially when it comes to things like clean air and clean water, nutritious food and risks to the environment. health.
Sustainable development goals for fairer economies
SDG 1: No poverty. By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty and reduce the number of people living in poverty. This requires implementing social protection measures, ensuring equal access to economic resources and services, and building the resilience of the poor and vulnerable, especially in the face of climate change.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger. By 2030, end hunger and malnutrition, and ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food. This requires ensuring sustainable food production systems and resilient farming practices, maintaining the genetic diversity of animals and crops, and correcting and preventing trade restrictions and distortions in global agricultural markets, among other measures.
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth. The goals include full and productive employment for all men and women, the maintenance of per capita economic growth and the achievement of higher levels of economic productivity. Additional goals focus on job creation, entrepreneurship, protection of labor rights and the elimination of practices such as forced labor, modern slavery and trafficking.
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities. By 2030, achieve and maintain income growth for the poorest 40% of the population at a rate above the national average. This requires ensuring social, economic and political inclusion and equal opportunities for all, and adopting policies and regulations that promote equality and better oversight of global financial markets and institutions. Other targets focus on LDCs and migrants.
How much progress has been made?
In recent years, we have made significant progress in making economies fairer. The share of the world’s population living in extreme poverty fell from 10.1% in 2015 to 9.3% in 2017, while workers living in poverty halved between 2010 and 2019. Income inequalities were decreasing. But COVID-19 made us back down.
“Estimates suggest that 2020 has seen an increase from 119 to 124 million poor people in the world, 60% of whom are in South Asia,” says the 2021 SDG progress report. In fact, extreme poverty has increased for the first time since 1998, from 8.4% in 2019 to 9.5% in 2020.
If drastic action is not taken, we will miss the goal of ending poverty by 2030.
Other targets have also been significantly affected by the pandemic. The equivalent of 255 million full-time jobs were lost, four times the number lost during the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Compared to 2019, up to 161 million more people were facing hunger and 320 million more facing moderate or severe food insecurity, while about 15% more children were wasted. Young people and women were particularly affected, with unemployment rates of 8.7% and 5% respectively, against 3.7% for all adults and 3.9% for men.
Now the climate threat is looming – with a potentially greater impact than the pandemic.
In April 2021, 118 countries reported national and / or local disaster risk reduction strategies, up from 45 in 2015.
However, “direct economic losses of $ 70.4 billion due to disasters were reported by 53 countries for 2019, of which 60% ($ 42.5 billion) was recorded in the agricultural sector,” says the report. ‘stage. If the extreme weather events of the past year are any indication, we can expect the cost of this risk – and its impact on inequality and food security – to increase if we don’t take drastic action to stop the climate change.
What are the World Economic Forum and its partners doing to create fairer economies?
- The forum COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs brings together more than 50 leading global organizations to coordinate the responses of social entrepreneurs as they overcome the significant impacts of COVID-19.
- Food Systems Initiative strives to improve food security by facilitating dialogue, mobilizing leadership and expertise to achieve agricultural sector transformation, strengthening agricultural value chains, leveraging innovation and more.
- Conversion revolution aims to provide better jobs, better education and better skills to 1 billion people over the next 10 years to enable them to access the jobs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Projects include the national Closing the Skills Gap accelerators.
- As part of the Forum’s Climate Action Platform, the Alliance for clean air strives to reduce air pollution for all, while 100 million farmers will work to support farmers in the transition to net zero and nature-positive food systems by 2030, with positive impacts for climate, food security and job growth.
What can I do to make the economy fairer?
- Donate money, food, basic necessities or my time to charities working to end poverty and hunger or provide support to refugees and vulnerable people.
- Support my Local Farmers Market, which will support local farm workers and efforts to maintain crop diversity and global food security.
- Support businesses that are transparent about their supply chains and strive to eliminate forced labor, modern slavery and trafficking.
- Do what I can to help needy employees and stakeholders in my business as the pandemic continues.
- Express my thanks to essential workers, especially informal workers and concert workers who may face additional risks and uncertainty during the pandemic.