International experts discuss the reduction of inequalities in middle-income countries in the Post-2015 Agenda

20 Mar 2014

Seventy per cent of the poor live in middle-income countries

Salamanca - The Government of Spain, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), opened the workshop on “Development with equality: Reducing inequality in middle-income countries” in Salamanca.

The meeting brings together international experts to discuss ways of fighting inequality in middle-income countries. These countries are facing needs and demands linked to extreme poverty, while their importance in the international community and global governance is growing.

Gonzalo Robles, Secretary-General of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), said: “Although available data shows a reduction in extreme poverty, the fact is that relative poverty has increased and, as a consequence, so has inequality. The fact that 70% of the poor live in countries considered as middle-income, forces the international community to focus on this issue. We do not work to improve indicators; we work to improve people’s lives.”

Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator, thanked the Government of Spain for its commitment to international cooperation and highlighted the work of the MDG Achievement Fund, an initiative arising from the agreement between Spain and UNDP to fight extreme poverty. “The Fund has set an example of the way different development actors can unite to reach 50 countries through 130 joint programmes. This formula has been so successful that there is agreement as to the establishment of a new fund that will help achieve the new Sustainable Development Objectives that will be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.”

Ms. Grynspan drew attention to the participative process, at the heart of this meeting, that is being used in the definition of the new development agenda and will be finalized in September 2015: “Over two million people have participated in the consultations and have highlighted two cross-cutting issues that should be included in the new agenda. The first one is quality of services: people demand not only access to education, they require better education. The second cross-cutting issue is inequality.”

The UNDP Associate Administrator added: “We may think that when a country achieves the status of middle-income country, it no longer needs cooperation policies, yet it is precisely the inequality persisting in societies what forces us to give them a prominent place in the Post-2015 Agenda.

”In the last decade, 30 countries have made the transition from low-income to middle-income countries. They have undergone a process of significant economic growth that was not always followed by a reduction of economic and social inequality in their societies. Data indicates that although extreme poverty has decreased, relative poverty has increased and thus, inequality, so that there is not necessarily a correlation between growth and equitable development. In fact, almost 70% of the poor live in middle-income countries.

The workshop is structured around the following five working sessions:

1.    “The new international context”, in which the boom of middle-income countries and their response to the challenges in the areas of production, financing and governance, all of them weaknesses associated with the “middle-income trap”, will be analyzed.  

2.    “The metrics of inequality: Why is there inequality? In what areas? Where?, among who?”, will focus on the various proposals for the measurement of domestic inequality within countries aimed at obtaining standard measurements and valuations at international level to translate general objectives into local goals and indicators.

3.    “Development policies to fight inequality”, in which the changes needed in public policies to reduce and tackle the levels of inequality in the development and growth agenda will be analyzed.

4.    “Institutional commitment”, which will address the specific commitment made by institutions to implement these policies aimed at the reduction of inequality.

5.    “The commitment of Spain” which will deal with the specific commitment of the Government of Spain, in particular, the inclusion of the fight against inequality in middle-income countries as a priority issue in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
 
The workshop ends March 21. The Conclusions of the meeting will be incorporated in the agenda of the Meeting of the Global Alliance of Effective Development (Alianza Global de Eficacia del Desarrollo) to be held in Mexico on 15 and 16 April. Mexico and Spain will lead the discussions on middle income countries.

Contact Information

AECID: Jesús Díaz Carazo, jesus.diaz@aecid.es

MDG-F: Felipe Santos, felipe.santos@undp.org

UNDP: Antje Watermann, antje.watermann@undp.org