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Global development is at an important crossroads. Despite remarkable gains over the last several decades, a growing number of challenges threaten to reverse development gains and jeopardize the prospects for continued progress. These include rising inequality and erosion of trust within societies to climate change, pandemics and increasing conflict across the globe. About one third of the global population is at risk of exclusion from services, access to markets and participation in cultural and political spaces. Exclusion can occur based on gender, disability status, age, sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI), ethnicity, race, and migration  status, among other characteristics. 

Social sustainability - when people feel part of the development process and believe they and their descendants will benefit from it – is fundamental to addressing today’s development challenges; and is the social counterpart to environmental and economic sustainability. Building on decades of engagement on social development, the World Bank’s focus on social sustainability encompasses inclusion, resilience, cohesion and process legitimacy.  

Social Sustainability and Inclusion reflects the World Bank’s commitment to addressing long standing barriers to development, strengthening the focus on people who have been excluded from economic and social opportunities, and increasing investment in inclusive growth. We support our client countries to build socially sustainable communities and societies that are able to work together to overcome challenges, deliver public goods, and allocate scarce resources in a manner perceived as legitimate and fair by all, so that all people may thrive over time.

Last Updated: May 11, 2023


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Laura Ivers