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Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

The international community has made significant strides towards lifting people out of hunger and poverty. However, inequality still persists and large disparities remain in access to food, land, social protection, health and education services.

There is growing consensus that economic growth is not sufficient to reduce poverty if it is not inclusive and grounded in sustainable development. To reduce inequality, policies should be universal in principle paying attention to the diversity of socio-economic contexts and the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

Leaving no one behind is at the heart of both the UN and FAO’s approach to sustainable development.  Extending opportunities and ensuring access can improve livelihoods of the poor, and enhance the health and education of their children, helping vulnerable people escape the poverty trap and contribute to a thriving economy and fairer society.

Without economic access – the ability to afford safe food – millions of people across the world are locked into a cycle of poverty, struggling to make ends meet and unable to contribute to a nation’s economic growth.

Poor and vulnerable people, especially rural women, continue to have limited access to land and natural resources, which affects the way they use natural resources. Rights of land and tenure for those who farm, keep livestock, fish, and manage forests is a major factor in addressing inequalities over the long term.

FAO works with countries and partners to connect small-scale farmers to markets through rural infrastructure and services development, generate employment in rural areas where most of the vulnerable people live, extend social protection to support the poorest of the poor, and ensure access to natural resources for the most vulnerable.

Facts and figures

  • Some 78 percent of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas, and are highly dependent on natural resources.
  • In the past few decades, land reforms have contributed to reducing gross inequality of access to rural land rights with some 1.5 billion people less poor and tenure rights strengthened.
  • As more areas are cultivated to provide food for a rapidly growing world population, there is increasing pressure on land and other natural resources and conflict over tenure rights.
  • Women in rural areas are still up to three times more likely to die while giving birth than women living in urban centres.
  • On average—and taking into account population size—income inequality increased by 11 per cent in developing countries between 1990 and 2010.
  • A significant majority of households in developing countries—more than 75 per cent of the population—are living today in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s.
  • Evidence shows that, beyond a certain threshold, inequality harms growth and poverty reduction, the quality of relations in the public and political spheres and individuals’ sense of fulfilment and self-worth.
  • Evidence from developing countries shows that children in the poorest 20 per cent of the populations are still up to three times more likely to die before their fifth birthday than children in the richest quintiles.

    SDG10 Targets

    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.
    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.
    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.
    4. Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.
    5. Improve the regulation and monitoring of global financial markets and institutions and strengthen the implementation of such regulations
    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.
    7. Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies.

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

    b. Encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes.

    c. By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent.

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