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Reducing Inequalities: SDG 10 Progress and Prospects

April 2-3, 2019

Geneva, Switzerland


Photo: Julio César Casma / World Bank

This two-day conference will look at the progress made on SDG 10, which calls for reduced inequalities. The outcomes from this conference will be used as inputs in preparation for the UN High Level Political Forum on empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality to be held in July 2019.

  • This event will take stock of the progress toward achieving SDG 10 and will particularly focus on issues related to within-country inequalities. Participants will share knowledge about success stories, good practices, and challenges, and identify areas of concern. The meeting, jointly organized by the World Bank and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), will help inform the 2019 UN High Level Political Forum to be held in July and serve to influence collaboration and programmes on inequality going forward from 2019.

  • Download the full agenda here. 
    Meeting Outcomes | Session Summaries

    Day 1: April 2, 2019

    9:00 AM –

    10:30 AM     

    (Room 3+4)

    Session 1: Opening Panel

    The main objective of this panel will be to set the context for the two-day discussion. The speakers will (i) take stock of where we are in terms of progress towards SDG 10 – Reducing inequality; (ii) share knowledge about success stories, good practices and challenges; and (iii) identify areas of concern.


    Keynote: Michelle Bachelet, Former President of Chile and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

    Chair: Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice President, World Bank Group



    Pedro Conceição, Director, Human Development Report Office, United Nations Development Programme

    Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

    Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Senior Director, Poverty & Equity Global Practice, World Bank

    10:30 AM –

    10:45 AM

    Coffee Break

    10:45 AM –

    12:15 PM

    Session 2: Progress and Challenges: Country Experiences (parallel sessions) 

    Parallel Session 2a: Income and Wealth Inequality (Room 15)

    This session will shed light on the trends and drivers of income and wealth inequality within individual countries and discuss the progress toward SDG 10.1.



    Gonzalo Hernandez Licona, Executive Secretary, National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL), Mexico

    Chiara Mariotti, Inequality Policy Manager, Oxfam GB

    Marc Morgan, Research Fellow, World Inequality Lab, Paris School of Economics

    Ambar Narayan, Lead Economist, Poverty & Equity Global Practice, World Bank (Moderator)

    Parallel Session 2b: Inclusion (Room 16)

    This session will assess the progress and challenges to reducing inequalities across groups and persistent patterns of discrimination – e.g. women, vulnerable migrants, refugees/IDPs, LGBT, indigenous peoples, rural people, people with disabilities. Speakers will (i) assess the extent and trends in these inequalities; including challenges to their measurement and analysis; (ii) take stock of barriers to reducing these inequalities for particular groups; and (iii) identify needs for intervention toward building inclusion and social cohesion; and eliminating discrimination in laws, policies and social practices. 



    Montshiwa Monty Montshiwa, National Coordinator – Poverty Eradication Coordination Office, Botswana

    Sania Nishtar, Chairperson, Benazir Income Support Program & Poverty Alleviation Coordination Council, Pakistan

    Frances Stewart, Professor Emeritus of Development Economics, Oxford

    Daniela Bas, Director, UN-DESA’s Division for Inclusive Social Development (Moderator)

    Parallel Session 2c: Inequalities in Opportunities and Outcomes (Room 17)

    This session will reflect on the key dimensions of inequality of opportunities and outcomes that are most important to address in a country, and the things that are needed to be done to achieve SDG 10.3.



    Nicolas Depetris-Chauvin, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Dubai School of Government and Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies, Department of Economics, University of Oxford

    Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children UK

    Bambang Widianto, Deputy for Human Development and Equality, Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia

    Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Senior Director, Poverty & Equity Global Practice, World Bank (Moderator)

    Parallel Session 2d: Cross-cutting Issue: Institutions and Governance (Room 7+8)

    This session will assess how institutions and governance can become more effective at reducing inequalities. Speakers will (i) take stock of the main institutional challenges to reducing inequalities in different contexts; and ways to circumvent them (ii) think about how nongovernment actors can contribute to reducing inequalities; and (iii) identify how social contracts may need to evolve to incorporate new actors and fit new realities to reduce inequality.



    Nelia Barnard, Deputy Permanent Representative of the South African Permanent Mission in Geneva

    Sarah Cliffe, Director, Center on International Cooperation, New York University

    Mariano Tommasi, Professor, Department of Economics, University of San Andrés and Director of the Center of Studies for Human Development, Argentina

    Jos Verbeek, World Bank Special Representative to the WTO and UN (Moderator)


    12:15 PM –


    2:00 PM

    Lunch // Consultation on the Human Development Report 2019: Inequality in Human Development


    Consultation on the Human Development Report 2019: Inequality in Human Development (Room 3+4)

    The 2019 Human Development Report will focus on the many dimensions of inequality—old and new—that are most important to people’s well-being, and what is behind them. In this context, the Human Development Report Office is convening a lunchtime meeting with global experts to discuss inequality in human development. What does inequality look like today? Do we have the right measures of inequality? How is it changing? And what might this mean for societies worldwide for the rest of the 21st century?



    Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, UN DESA

    Frances Stewart, Professor Emeritus of Development Economics and Director of the Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, University of Oxford. 

    Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School; Affiliated Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design; and Senior Advisor, Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) Network

    Opening remarks by Pedro Conceição, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.


    2:00 PM –

    3:15 PM

    (Room 3+4)

    Session 3: Reporting Back and Perspectives of Civil Society


    Reporting back: Facilitator will ask the moderators of each of the four parallel sessions (2a-2d) to give a brief readout from their respective sessions, then invite comments and questions for discussion.


    Perspectives of Civil Society: Representatives from select civil society organizations will be invited to give a five-minute talk about how they have worked to reduce inequality in their countries or internationally. 



    Judith Randel, Co-Founder and Special Advisor, Development Initiatives 

    Kate Donald, Director, Human Rights in Economic and Social Policy Program, Center for Economic and Social Rights

    Rosina Pobee, Sightsavers 

    Ingo Ritz, Director, Global Call to Action Against Poverty

    Daniel Perell, UN Representative for the Baha’i International Community (Moderator)

    3:15 PM –

    3:30 PM

    Coffee Break

    3:30 PM –

    5:00 PM

    (Room 3+4)

    Session 4: Cross-country Inequalities: Progress to Date and Challenges

    This panel session will assess progress and challenges on meeting the SDG 10 targets that focus on reducing inequality among countries. These include regulating financial markets; enhancing representation at global institutions; facilitating safe migration; making trade and technology work for least developed countries (LDCs) and developing countries; increasing official development assistance and foreign direct investment to countries with the greatest needs; and reducing the cost of remittances. 



    Peter Chowla, Economic Affairs Officer, UN-DESA Finance for Sustainable Development

    Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Director of International Trade & Commodities, UN Conference on Trade and Development

    Mayumi Endoh, Deputy-Director, OECD Development Co-operation Directorate 

    Jill Helke, Director of International Cooperation and Partnerships, International Organization for Migration



    Day 2: April 3, 2019

    9:00 AM –

    10:45 AM

    (Room 3+4)

    Session 5: Policies and Partnerships

    This panel will focus on the implementation of SDG 10 – reducing inequalities; highlighting concrete steps for attaining greater equality and reducing exclusion and discrimination. The speakers will assess the types of policies, partnerships and coordinated actions needed to reduce inequalities moving forward; and share knowledge about success stories and good practices.



    Sarah Cliffe, Director, Center on International Cooperation, New York University

    Cécile Duflot, Executive Director, Oxfam France

    Bambang Widianto, Deputy for Human Development and Equality, Office of the Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia

    Nadine Umutoni, Permanent Secretary, Rwanda Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion

    Shantanu Mukherjee, Chief, Policy and Analysis Branch, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UN-DESA (Moderator)

    10:45 AM –

    11:00 AM

    Coffee Break

    11:00 AM –

    12:30 PM

    Session 6: Designing and Implementing Successful Policies: Country Experiences (parallel sessions)

    Parallel Session 6a: Fiscal Redistribution (Room 15)

    This session will discuss fiscal, wage and social protection policies that are successful in promoting greater equality and economic and political stability while minimizing tradeoffs, and the impediments to designing and implementing such policies.



    Patrick Belser, Senior Economist, International Labor Organization 

    Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development and Chief Economist, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

    Imraan Valodia, Dean, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Senior Director, Poverty & Equity Global Practice, World Bank (Moderator)

    Parallel Session 6b: Human Capital and Elimination of Discrimination (Room 16)

    This session will put forward policies and actions that will eliminate discrimination and help enable all individuals to achieve their life potential. Speakers will (i) share knowledge of policy designs and engagement strategies that make resources and services more accessible, especially for groups that have been historically marginalized; (ii) share success stories in building new partnerships toward policy implementation; and (iii) identify ways to monitor policy impacts toward building human capital and inclusive behavior.



    Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue, Professor; Department Chair; Associate Director, Cornell Population Center

    Jamele Rigolini, Program Leader for Human Development and Poverty, World Bank

    Cornelia September, Former South Africa Minister of Human Settlements and Chairperson, Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training

    Pedro Conceição, Director, Human Development Report Office, UNDP (Moderator)

    Parallel Session 6c: Economic Opportunities (Room 17)

    This session will discuss progress in and impediments to designing and implementing effective laws, regulations, and policies to promote economic opportunities that are equitable.



    Martha Chen, Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard University

    Vincent Chetail, Director of the Global Migration Centre and Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

    Andrew Shepherd, Director, Chronic Poverty Advisory Network

    Marco Sanchez Cantillo, Deputy-Director, Agricultural Development Economics, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Moderator)

    Session 6d: Equality Through Empowerment (Room 7+8)

    This session will provide examples of how different actors and groups are being empowered to shape policy to promote greater equity considering that tackling inequality is not the same as poverty reduction. Curbing inequality requires addressing disproportionate access to power and resources by elites; bringing transparency to disparities in relative capabilities and opportunities; and countering discrimination and stigma through advocacy and coalition building.  Speakers will: (i) think about ways that non-government actors and different areas of government are being empowered to contribute to reducing inequalities; (ii) discuss innovative partnerships and approaches among civil society, private sector, and governments in reducing inequalities; (iii) identify examples where institutions and social contracts are being adjusted to incorporate new actors and fit new realities; (iv) discuss the role of interactive governance in reducing inequalities.



    Rachel Gisselquist, Senior Research Fellow, UNU Wider

    Katja Hujo, Senior Research Coordinator, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

    Socorro Flores Liera, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations Office in Geneva

    Emelie Weski, Vice President, National Council of Swedish Youth Organizations

    Torben Nilsson, Senior Global Engagement Specialist, International Fund for Agricultural Development (Moderator)


    12:30 PM –

    2:00 PM


    2:00 PM –

    3:30 PM

    (Room 3+4)

    Contribution to Communiqué – An Interactive Session to Gather Individual Takeaways/Inputs


    Reporting back: Facilitator will ask the moderators of each of the parallel sessions to give a brief readout from their session, then invite comments and questions for discussion.


    Inputs toward communiqué: The facilitator will guide participants through an interactive exercise to elicit key points that should be made in the communiqué. This will include breaking into small groups, using flipcharts and sticky notes to vote on the most important points to make the session dynamic and engaging.

    3:30 PM –

    4:00 PM

    Coffee Break

    4:00 PM –

    4:30 PM 

    Closing and Main Takeaways 



  • Introduction 

    The theme of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2019 is Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. The HLPF will maintain a special focus on SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17, which is considered each year. The SDGs under review will be examined in terms of progress made and challenges encountered in their implementation, as well as in terms of their relationships with achieving the rest of Agenda 2030. 

    In preparation for the review of SDG 10 – reduce inequality within and among countries – and its role in advancing sustainable development across the 2030 Agenda, the Division for Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA/DSDG) and the World Bank, together with other partners, are organizing an Expert Group Meeting (EGM).  

    The objective of the meeting will be to take stock of where we are in terms of progress towards SDG 10; to share knowledge about success stories, good practices and challenges; to identify particular areas of concern; and to suggest ways forward in terms of policies, partnerships and coordinated actions at all levels.  

    The discussions will primarily focus on within country inequalities which are increasing in most countries1, with sessions that take stock of inequality among countries. These messages will help inform the HLPF, assist in planning its sessions, and serve to influence collaborations and programmes of work on inequality going forward from 2019. Apart from the July meeting, the EGM will also inform the quadrennial review to be conducted in September 2019 at the level of Heads of State/Governments in New York. 

    Download a PDF copy of the meeting's concept note here.


    SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities 

    The 2030 Agenda calls for a “just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met.” This call comes at a time when, despite important gains made since 2000 in lifting people out of poverty, inequalities and large disparities remain in income and wealth, and also in access to food, healthcare, education, land, clean water and other assets and resources essential for living a full and dignified life.  

    Some groups including those in rural areas (e.g. family farmers), women, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and others have persistently clustered at the bottom of distributions. Real wage growth has constantly declined since 2015 and at the same time, a warming climate, demographic change, decent work deficits, political crises, technological change and conflict risk exacerbating inequalities if actions are not taken toward equality in both opportunities and outcomes. Such inequalities can become self-perpetuating across generations, thus hindering progress towards one of the central objectives of the 2030 Agenda – that of ‘leaving no one behind’.   Understanding that development is not sustainable if people are excluded from opportunities, services, and the chance for a better life; SDG 10 calls on the international community to “reduce inequality within and among countries”. The 10 targets within SDG 10 cast a wide net to capture multiple drivers of inequality and to ensure that no group or individual is left behind. Four targets address within country inequality across social, economic and political dimensions aiming to expand prosperity, inclusion, and social protection. Three targets aim to reduce inequality among countries with attention to cross-border flows of finance and people and the distribution of voice in global institutions. Three other targets focus on the means of implementation and put forward concrete steps for attaining greater equality by directing resource flows toward those most in need.  See Annex 1 for the full list of SDG 10 targets in each of these categories. 

    Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, there has been some positive movement as measured by SDG 10 targets. In 64 per cent of the countries with data, the incomes of the poorest 40 per cent of the population grew faster than the national average. The global average cost of sending remittances has declined in recent years although rates are still more than double SDG targets. And tariffs faced by small island developing States and least developed countries have been falling.2 This progress has been mixed across countries and regions. At the same time, indicators attached to five of the targets in SDG 10 fall under Tier III status, meaning that regular reporting against these indicators is not yet fully developed and tracking of progress at global, regional and national levels is limited. This includes indictors for monitoring discrimination and disaggregated income deprivations which are important for informing inclusive policies.  


    Framing the issues 

    The EGM on SDG 10 is an opportunity for stock-taking, assessing progress made and challenges to be overcome, and renewing commitment to reducing inequality. Several strands for discussion warrant special attention to this end. 

    Leaving no one behind Reducing inequality and ensuring the inclusion of all regardless of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status it is at the heart of the pledge that “no one will be left behind”. SDG 10 encompasses the universality of the 2030 Agenda in which goals and targets involve the entire world, developed and developing countries alike. Inequality in this respect is not only about closing gaps, but about doing so in a way that lifts the bottom up and guarantees the equal realization of individual’s basic rights.  

    Target 10.1 specifically aims to improve incomes at the bottom of the income distribution with a focus on growth for the poorest 40 per cent of the population. While some progress is being made on a country by country basis, within country inequality has still risen in some countries.3 Concentration of wealth at the top is an additional challenge with Oxfam estimating 82 per cent of the wealth generated in 2017 went to the richest one percent of the world’s population, while the poorest half of the world saw no increase in their wealth.4 Meanwhile the ILO estimates that only 45 per cent of the global population are effectively covered by at least one social protection benefit, while the remaining 55 per cent – as many as 4 billion people – are left unprotected.5  If interventions are not made to change these trends, the next generation could face similar or higher levels of inequality. The wealth and income of parents is a strong predictor of children’s incomes as adults. In highly unequal societies, upward mobility is limited.6

    Increasing wealth and income at the bottom – as well as increasing access to non-income opportunities and achieving greater equality of outcomes – is one way of reducing inequality and this requires knowing who the poor and deprived are, where they live, and the nature of the barriers they face in accessing opportunities and making the most of them. Targets 10.2 and 10.3 recognize that deprivation and disadvantage are often rooted in exclusion – from labour markets, political participation and leadership, income, health care, personal security, or quality education.  

    Inequalities often stem from divisions along group lines that are socially constructed and sustained because they establish a basis for unequal access to valued outcomes and scarce resources. Discriminatory laws and practices perpetuate these inequalities and limit the potential for minorities and other excluded groups to realize their full potential.                              

    Inequalities can also be spatial in nature. Rural people are disproportionately affected by poverty with the poverty rate three times higher than in urban areas, and rural people account for 79 per cent of the total global poor. The most pronounced inequalities occur when rurality intersects with other forms of marginalization, resulting from variables such as gender, ethnicity and age; as well as disproportionate exposure to food insecurity, violence and climate pressures.7 These groups are among those most likely to be left behind. Economic progress in developing countries since the 1990s has led to an increase of more than 1.6 billion in the number of people living above the moderate poverty line. They include 750 million rural people who continue to live in rural areas, demonstrating that rural development has been, and will continue to be, essential to eradicating hunger and poverty.At the same time, inequality and poverty in urban areas is a growing challenge as urban populations expand.

    Achieving the 2030 Agenda calls for a systematic analysis of exclusion in all its forms and pointed interventions to remove social, economic and political barriers to opportunities and especially to basic rights. Provision of basic services and guarantees of minimum social protection can help in this regard, but provision does not automatically ensure access/use so more attention and understanding of barriers is needed to ensure equality of opportunities and outcomes. Broad normative and legal changes are also needed to close gaps including in fiscal policy; labour market policies (including wage-setting policies); and anti-discrimination legislation.

    Winners and losers While ideals of fairness and social justice generally resonate across societies, groups and individuals by nature may see incentives to maintain distinctions and protect advantageous positions in the face of scarce resources, perceived erosion in living standards, uncertain prospects or rapid social change. Today, there are many dynamics that have bearing on group formation and protection strategies, expressed through political movements and marked shifts in policy stances.  For example, trends in global income distribution present some challenges to collective agreements and cooperation across countries and classes. Lower middle classes in developed countries show frustration with the lower than average growth in their living standards relative to other groups. This frustration is coupled with observations of high-income growth in emerging economies, which may reduce support for open trade with developing countries and more open migration policies.  

    Rapidly changing technologies; climate related shocks, disasters and crises; the globalization of information, business, and social networks; the decreasing bargaining power of workers; conflicts and many other trends can exacerbate such tendencies, but can also open up space for new alignments and forward-looking cooperation within and among countries. At the same time, not all groups will be equally affected by these trends, with those who are already marginalized having limited resources to withstand shocks and to capitalize on emerging opportunities, which could further deepen inequalities. 

    The perception that access to opportunities and improvements in outcomes is a zero-sum game, not just at the national but also at the international level, in which there must be winners and losers can stand in the way of policies aimed at redistribution and greater equality. A realistic approach to tacking inequalities calls for an awareness of the changing political dynamics that determine the ultimate sustainability of such measures.   

    Global flows – SDG 10 is a space within the 2030 Agenda to address inequalities linked to multilateral decision making, as well as complex global flows of finance, people, technology and other resources. Global connectivity has the potential to increase productivity immensely, create new jobs and better the human condition. But asymmetries in access to global markets, in the ability to define rules, in the patterns of financial flows and in access to social protection give some groups decisive advantages in reaping the rewards of global integration. Whether inequalities are diminished or expanded by globalization will depend on how globalization is managed.  

    The rules and regulations that shape migration patterns and protect migrants deserve special attention in assessments of inequality. Migration is one of the most effective paths for individuals to access higher wage jobs and overcome barriers to socio-economic mobility. Moving to a new country often triples the wages of migrants enabling them to escape poverty and support relatives at home through remittances.9 Countries receiving migrants can also benefit by filling gaps in skills. But there are formidable barriers for people to migrate and there has been insufficient action to ease the movement of people across borders. Additional and more widespread national and global efforts to reduce recruitment and remittance costs, recognize the skills that migrants bring, enhance the portability of social security coverage, and remove restrictions on access to paid work for displaced people warrant greater consideration. The recent adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a significant step in this direction. 

    Migration is also a concern for within-country inequalities: more than 1 billion people living in developing countries have moved internally. In developing regions with high urbanization rates, rural migration in all its forms accounts for at least 50 percent of all internal movements. Rural out-migration can be a means of income diversification, as well as an adaptation mechanism to slow-onset environmental stressors such as severe water scarcity. However, it is not often an option for the poorest, who face the greatest constraints to mobility.10

    Financial flows and global patterns of taxation are also a key part of the picture in evaluating options to reduce inequality. The global financial landscape is highly integrated with assets and liabilities stretched across borders. In many cases, this integration has supported investments in infrastructure, economic activity and social welfare in lower income countries with potential to reduce inequalities. But vast sums of international reserves have also accumulated and could be released for productive purposes. Likewise, the ratio of privately held capital versus publicly held capital has increased significantly with implications for public spending and investments in public goods that could equalize access to services and resources. Taxation on cross-border flows and the reduction of illicit financial outflows and tax avoidance and evasion must also be part of the conversation on fiscal means of reducing inequality.  

    Interlinkages – Entry points for reducing inequality extend beyond SDG 10. The reduction of inequality, in opportunities and outcomes, features throughout the 2030 Agenda. Indeed, Annex 2 identifies 60 targets across the SDGs – not including those in SDG 10 – that are directly linked to reducing inequality. Equal or universal access for all to resources, services and opportunities is a recurring theme across the SDGs. For example, SDG 2 on eliminating hunger calls for access to food, land and productive resources. SDG 3 on good health and well-being calls for universal access to reproductive health-care services and universal healthcare. SDG 4 calls for equal access to quality pre-primary through tertiary education and other learning programmes. The list goes on to include access to energy, infrastructure and transport. SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth directly addresses inequality by calling for stronger growth rates in least developed countries, by increasing the formalization of micro, small and medium enterprises, by promoting migrant workers’ rights or by calling for more government spending in social protection. Achieving equality-oriented targets in other Goals promises to directly affect progress toward the targets in SDG 10.  

    The potential for synergies between SDG 10 and SDG 5 warrant particular attention in line with reducing inequality. The disadvantages facing women and girls affect half of the world’s population. This makes efforts to reduce gender inequality and expand opportunities for women a necessary aspect of any effort to reduce overall inequality whether in income or access to other resources or services. Progress on SDG 1 and ending poverty in all its forms is also central to closing gaps between the rich and the poor. Conversely, the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, under most reasonable growth scenarios, will require reducing inequality within countries with high incidence of poverty. It will also require reducing the vast gaps in economic progress between countries, as extreme poverty is increasingly concentrated in low-income countries in Sub- Saharan Africa, and in fragile and conflict-affected states.11

    SDG 10 is closely linked to environmental sustainability and SDGs 13, 14 and 15. It is widely recognized that the poorest and most disenfranchised groups are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, natural disasters, and resource scarcity. Tropical areas, including countries in Africa and South and South-East Asia, small island developing States and countries where livelihoods depend on climate-sensitive natural resources such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry are most at risk. It is in these countries where there is also less capacity to prevent and cope with impacts.12 Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource depletion and ecosystem degradation hold promise for improving the resilience of the most vulnerable, but there is also a need to ensure that changes in resource use legislation and economic structures don’t reduce the opportunities of vulnerable groups. 

    There are also strong links with SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions. Reducing inequality calls for an end to exploitation and strong mechanisms for the provision of justice and anti-discrimination legislation.  Indeed, targets 10.2 and 10.3 directly relate to SDG 16’s commitment to non-discriminatory laws and policies. Additionally, progress towards SDG 10, especially the reduction of horizontal inequalities, can help advance peace and reduce the risk of conflict and violence. 


    Key questions 

    Given the centrality of SDG 10 to the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda, the 2019 HLPF will be a critical opportunity to assess progress toward reducing inequalities and change courses that are not on track. The EGM is an important space for shaping the path forward. To this end, key questions that could be considered during the EGM include: 

    Stock taking: 

    • What are the key trends and drivers in inequality in multiple dimensions? Where are we most off track?

    • What is the state of evidence on inequality of opportunities and their implications for economic mobility, and long-term growth and poverty reduction? • What are some differences in the nature of inequalities across regions, in developed and developing countries, and in different areas (e.g. urban-rural spectrum) within countries?

    • What are the defining characteristics of groups who are being left behind - gender, religion, ethnicity, income, geographic origin, rurality, age, disability?

    • What are the dimensions and degrees of exclusion– income and wealth; political participation; access to services like healthcare, education, water and sanitation; legal representation; the right to own property; and economic opportunities, including access to productive assets, finance, and employment? Self-exclusion (behavioral factors)? 

    • What is the nature of interlinkages across dimensions of inequality. For example, do inequalities in health and education – particularly maternal health and early childhood development – perpetuate income inequalities and/or the reverse?

    • What is the state of evidence on links between inequality and other economic, social and environmental phenomenon from increasing migration, social unrest, the disappearing middle class, labour force skill shortages, natural resource depletion and ecosystem degradation?

    • Does inequality influence perceptions of fairness and trust in society, which in turn affects social cohesion? • Which countries have prioritized SDG10, and how are they addressing different inequalities? What the main instruments available to countries? 


    • How are inequalities perpetuated through legal and normative structures and where are the most promising areas for intervention?

    • What implications do emerging trends in technology (such as digital technology and the fourth industrial revolution) have for inequality within and between countries?

    • Are there ways to incentivize redistributive policies for the top and middle of distributions – in other words, how to sell equality to the current winners and make policies politically sustainable? 

    • How can emerging trends toward nationalism, austerity, and trade protectionism be shifted toward a focus on common interests and public goods? 

    • What are some key emerging areas of inequality that require attention - gaps in technology access and advanced skills, gaps in the quality of education and healthcare, gaps in opportunities for political participation, gaps between urban and rural areas, differences in disaster exposure? 

    • How can the collection of disaggregated data and data on the nature of discrimination be accelerated to help monitor progress in inequality reduction? Are there alternative ways to monitor progress and design evidence-based policies?

    • How are increasing conflict and violence exacerbating inequalities?

    • How are increasing climate variability and climate extremes exacerbating inequalities? 


    • Are there examples of policies and actions (such as financial innovations) that have successfully reduced inequalities between individuals, households, regions, or communities within a country? Are there examples of successful interventions in conflict affected regions or areas with low levels of climate resilience?

    • Are there critical periods during the lifecycle for interventions to reduce the perpetuation of inequality or to enhance intergenerational mobility?

    • What are practical steps to making governance and institutional structures more responsive to the reduction of inequality?

    • What kind of fiscal policies can address the needs of both “pre-distribution” – the prevention of inequalities - and redistribution, balancing with the objectives of resource mobilization and economic efficiency?

    • What are the relative advantages and risks of universal versus targeted interventions including social protection?

    • How can incentives be introduced in the private sector for inclusive policies in regard to wages, taxation, non-wage benefits (such as parental leave, childcare, and retirement), and global production systems?

    • What opportunities exist in the development of sustainable food systems to reduce urban-rural inequalities, generating employment and boosting investments in rural areas?

    • Are there examples of private sector led technological innovations that have reduced gaps in opportunities between groups or regions in a country? What roles (if any) have state policies played in these innovations? 

    • How can union activity, women’s rights groups and other forms of collective action be strengthened to enhance negotiating power at the bottom of distributions?

    • What can be done to reduce elite capture of economic and political institutions at the national and global level? 


    Contribution to HLPF 2019 

    The knowledge and insights of experts—both practitioners and academics—from across the world will be crucial to addressing these questions. The EGM will serve to bring together a cross-section of such expertise from a diversity of countries and regions to help: 

    • Provide substantive inputs into the thematic reviews at the HLPF and help inform its outcomes;

    • Identify cases from regions and specific countries (including those that are conducting or have conducted Voluntary National Reviews) that illustrate challenges or highlight innovative practices;

    • Suggest effective presenters for the specific sessions at the HLPF, as well as contributors to blog posts, e-discussions and other activities leading up to the HLPF; and

    • Influence collaborations and programmes of work going forward from 2019. 


    Participation and organization 

    The EGM is part of a broader review of SDG 10, including specialized reports from various agencies and think tanks and a virtual consultation with civil society. Some of these inputs will also feed into the EGM. 

    Participation at the EGM will be by invitation. A limited number of experts from think tanks, academia, NGOs, the private sector and Governments will be invited, with financial support provided on a case-by-case basis and depending on over-all budget. Experts from the UN system and other international organizations will also be invited to participate. 

    UN-DESA/DSDG and the World Bank will prepare the event in consultation with FAO, IFAD, ILO, IMF, IOM, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNICEF, UN-OHCHR and UN-Women. DESA/DSDG will also coordinate across other DESA divisions in this connection. 

    Individual sessions at the EGM will address specific themes. The mode will be interactive, with short presentations from a panel serving to initiate discussion. This is a working-level meeting, with all participants encouraged to speak openly and informally. 

    The EGM will be conducted in English. All presentations/papers/remarks will be made available online. Arrangements will be made to brief member States on the outcomes prior to the HLPF, based on a document to be prepared following the EGM. 


    ANNEX 1: SDG 10 Targets 

    SDG 10 to reduce inequality within and among countries includes seven substantive targets – four that address within country inequality and three that address inequality among countries; and three targets that focus on the means of implementation. These targets are listed in full in the table below. 


    Substantive Targets

    Reduce inequality within countries 
    10.1Progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average. 
    10.2Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. 
    10.3Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard. 
    10.4Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality. 
    Reduce inequality among countries 
    10.5Improving the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthening the implementation of such regulations. 
    10.6Ensuring enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decisionmaking in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions. 
    10.7Facilitating orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. 

    Implementation Targets

    10.aImplementing the principle of special and differentiated treatment for developing countries and least developed countries in particular, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements.
    10.bEncouraging official development assistance and financial flows, including through foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest in line with national plans and programmes.
    10.cReducing to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent. 


    ANNEX 2: Goals and Targets Linked to Inequality13

    Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere 

    1.1  By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day 

    1.2  By 2030, reduce at least by half the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions 

    1.3  Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable 

    1.4  By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance 

    Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture  

    2.1  By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round  

    2.2  By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons 

    2.3  By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment

    Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages  

    3.1  By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births 3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births  

    3.3  By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases  

    3.4  By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being  

    3.7  By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes 

    3.8  Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

    Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all  

    4.1  By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes  

    4.2  By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education  

    4.3  By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university 

    4.5  By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations  

    4.6  By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy  

    4.a  Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all  

    Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls  

    5.1  End all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere  

    5.4  Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family as nationally appropriate  

    5.5  Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decisionmaking in political, economic and public life  

    5.6  Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences  

    5.a  Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws  

    5.b  Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women  

    5.c  Adopt and strengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels 

    Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all  

    6.1  By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all  

    6.2  By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations  

    Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all  

    7.1  By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services  

    7.a  By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology  

    Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all  

    8.3  Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services   

    8.5  By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value  

    8.6  By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training  

    8.7  Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms 

    8.8  Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment  

    8.10  Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all  

    Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation  

    9.1  Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all  

    9.2  Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries  

    9.c  Significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020  

    Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries  

    10.1  By 2030, progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population at a rate higher than the national average  

    10.2  By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status  

    10.3  Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard  

    10.4  Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality  

    10.5 Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthening the implementation of such regulations. 

    10.6  Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision-making in global international economic and financial institutions in order to deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate institutions  

    10.7  Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies 

    10.a Implement the principle of special and differentiated treatment for developing countries and least developed countries in particular, in accordance with World Trade Organization agreements.  

    10.b  Encouraging official development assistance and financial flows, including through foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest in line with national plans and programmes 

    10.c Reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent 

    Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable  

    11.1  By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums  

    11.2  By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons  

    11.3  By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries  

    11.7  By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities  

    11.b  By 2020, substantially increase the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, resilience to disasters, and develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels  

    Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns  

    12.1  Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries  

    12.2  By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources 

    Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*  

    13.1  Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate related hazards and natural disasters in all countries  

    13.b  Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries, including focusing on women, youth and local and marginalized communities  

    Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development  

    14.b  Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets  

    Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss  

    15.6  Ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and promote appropriate access to such resources  

    Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels  

    16.2  End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children  

    16.3  Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all  

    16.7  Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels  

    16.9  By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration  

    16.b  Promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development 



    1. Alvaredo, F., Chancel, L., Piketty, T., Saez, E., & Zucman, G. (Eds.). (2018). World inequality report 2018. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 

    2. United Nations (2018). Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018.

    3. Alvaredo, F., Chancel, L., Piketty, T., Saez, E., & Zucman, G. (Eds.). (2018). World inequality report 2018. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

    4. Pimentel, D. A. V., Aymar, I. M., & Lawson, M. (2018). Reward Work, Not Wealth: To end the inequality crisis, we must build an economy for ordinary working people, not the rich and powerful. Nairobi: Oxfam. DOI, 10(2017.1350). 

    5. ILO. 2017. World Social Protection Report 2017-19: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Geneva: ILO. 

    6. Narayan, Van der Weide and others (2018). Fair Progress?: Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the World. Washington, DC: World Bank. 

    7. FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO, 2018, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018. Building climate resilience for food security and nutrition. Rome, FAO.

    8. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2017, The State of Food and Agriculture 2017: Leveraging Food Systems for Inclusive Rural Transformation.

    9. World Bank (2018). Moving for Prosperity: Global Migration and Labor Markets.

    10. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 2017, The State of Food and Agriculture 2017: Migration, Agriculture and Rural Development. Rome, FAO.

    11. World Bank. 2018. Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2018: Piecing Together the Poverty Puzzle. Washington, DC: World Bank.

    12. United Nations. 2016. World Economic and Social Survey 2016: Climate Change Resilience: An opportunity for reducing inequalities. New York: United Nations. 

    13. United Nations (2015). Inequality and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Development Issues No. 4.

Conference Details

  • DATE/TIME: Tuesday, April 2, 2019 - Wednesday, April 3, 2019
  • LOCATION: Geneva, Switzerland
  • LANGUAGE: English
  • Update: Registration is now closed for this event.