Reducing inequalities forms focus of breakfast dialogue to discuss SDGs
“We do not have a shortage of policies to address inequalities, in fact, there are a number of policies and approaches that can reduce inequalities. What is lacking is the political will to implement these policies,” a UN official told a packed room of diplomats, UN officials, and NGOs at a recent breakfast dialogue hosted by the Baha’i International Community to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The morning meetings just across the road from the United Nations Headquarters in New York provide a neutral and open space for UN officials, Member States, and civil society to discuss progress made on the SDGs in the lead up to the High Level Political Forum in 2019, where they will be reviewed.
Around 70 people participated in the latest dialogue to discuss SDG 10—reducing inequalities within and among countries—and addressed issues including the role of civil society in implementing the SDGs, barriers to progress, and policies that have effectively reduced inequalities.
Among the participants included the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Korea to the United Nations, Ambassador Park Chull-joo.
“Inequalities are detrimental in many ways. Not only does it undermine the sustainability of our societies but it is also detrimental to the social cohesiveness of societies,” said the Ambassador.
“Addressing inequalities requires specific and tailored-made approaches to the different needs of various social groups in vulnerable situations.
“I would like to emphasise that people in need should not remain beneficiaries of efforts, but should be guaranteed full and active participation in society and they should be invited as agents of change in a more equal society.”
The Ambassador emphasized the centrality of education in reducing inequalities in the Republic of Korea.
“Basic education should not be limited to the mere passing down of skills and techniques, rather it should provide a sense of orientation and instill universal values with a view to building a more tolerant and peaceful future for all.”
Other conversations focused on the need for political will in implementing effective policies with regard to reducing global inequalities.
“In the conversation on how to achieve SDG 10, this has to be a conversation that happens more widely to look at power structures,” said Maggie Carter, Research Analyst at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).
“If one of the biggest barriers is entrenched power and the role of wealth in politics, then we have to think about which other actors can play a role, including stakeholders and civil society.”
Nick Galasso, a senior researcher at Oxfam America echoed the views and said it was important to evaluate the performance of countries in reducing inequalities in the last decade. He also noted that one of the barriers to reducing inequalities is the lack of comprehensive data on inequalities in low income countries.
“We only have data for a quarter of low income countries. We do not have a good understanding of how the world's poor are faring as inequality changes,” said Mr. Galasso, adding that it was also important to view inequality in the context of poverty and not to separate the two. Inequality treats the disease while poverty is the symptom.
“It’s really a question of political will. That’s the mountain we still have not traversed.”
Daniel Perell, Representative of the Baha’i International Community to the UN said that he was encouraged by the conversation and that it is important to look at the structural barriers.
“While we have improved our ability to assess and articulate symptoms such as poverty and pollution, Goal 10 begins to address the root causes of these symptoms. It is a goal that is inherently relational, and this is closer to the heart of what is preventing the advancement of humanity.”