The international community has made significant strides towards lifting people out of poverty. The most vulnerable nations – the least developed countries, the landlocked developing countries and the small island developing states – continue to make inroads into poverty reduction. However, large disparities remain in access to health and education services and other assets within these countries. While income inequality between countries may have been reduced, inequality within countries has risen.
Inequality is a roadblock to progress when it deprives people of opportunity, and subjects many to conditions of extreme poverty. For instance, in the late 2000s in children in the wealthiest quintile of South Asia were two times more likely to complete primary school than those in the poorest. In Latin America and East Asia, children in the poorest asset quintile are three times more likely to die before the age of 5 than those in the richest. There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and if it does not involve the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. Rising inequalities adversely impact human development. According to the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI), Sub-Saharan Africa loses 33% of its HDI to inequality and South Asia by 25%.
Goal 10 presents to the international community the task to ensure that the income growth of the bottom 40% of their population is higher than the national average by the year 2030. To reduce inequality, policies should be universal in principle, paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations. Inclusion has to be promoted actively, in social as well as political spheres, for all ages, sexes, races, religions and ethnicities to create conditions of equity within countries. To create a fairer international system globally, global financial markets will require improved regulation, and developing countries will have to have a greater voice in international decision making.