Daily Management Review

The Growing disparity between the Haves and the Have-Nots


There is a sea of disparity of incomes levels between the super-rich and those who have barely anything. The UN is working towards reducing this disparity so as to spread the wealth and make business more sustainable.

Last January, with the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Switzerland, which is mostly attended by the wealthy and incredibly wealthy nations, Oxfam, the London based charity, took the opportunity to unveil a startling statistics that extrapolates current trends and gives us a peek into a possible future. As per its report by 2016, more than 50% of the world’s wealth will be held and controlled by 1% of the world population – the super rich. In yet another eye opener, it reports that 80% of this filthy rich group have amassed as much wealth as half of the world’s population – 3.5 billion.
Given this state of affairs, another forum was created for the not so rich – The World Social Forum (WSF). This forum will be meeting in Tunis, sometime later this week in order to discuss the growing disparity between the have and the have-nots.

At the same time, the Civil Society Reflection Group (CSRG) which tends to focus on Global Development Perspectives, will be coming out with a study which sets goals and commitments for the super-rich, and is in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for the post-2015 development agendas.
Last December, saw the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) spell out targets and deadlines for the super-rich.
“But this goal remained vague and did not include any binding commitments for rich countries,” pointed out Jens Martens, director of the Global Policy Forum.

That is the reason why the 17 of the UN’s SDG have to be strengthened so that they are not only practically implementable but doing so will also revitalize partnerships and bring about sustainable development.

The problem is, although many government have agreed on set targets, the wordings for implementation are weak and vague; they are not “smart”, they are not specific, they are not measurable, quantifiable and time bound commitments.
“What we need are ‘smart’ targets to hold rich countries accountable,” adds Martens.

Goals with abstract means are pretty meaningless, as per Martens. Development in the post-2015 world will only succeed if the language in the UN’s SDGs is such that it is meaningfully makes these rich nations commit to time bound targets.

The UN’s 8 MDG will be replaced by 17 SDGs, this coming September. Already Inter-governmental negotiations are so as to finalize on these SDGs. What is to be noted however, is that these SDGs are mostly for developing nations.

These new goals have been created by the Open-ended Working Group (OWG) and include amongst others proposals to end hunger, eliminate poverty, bring about healthier lifestyles, provide improvements in educational quality, gender neutrality and reduce disparities in income levels, sustainable use of sanitation and water, productive employment, protection of terrestrial ecosystems, industrialization and enhancing global partnerships for sustainable development. All of these by 2030.
As per Roberto Bissio, the coordinator for Social Watch, principles of “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR) are a major requirement that must be strictly adhered to.

Apparently, for those rich countries, many of these goals are attainable or have already been achieved.
“Unfortunately, social achievements in reality are often fragile particularly for the socially excluded and can easily be rolled back as a result of conflict (as in the case of Ukraine), of capitalism in crisis (in many countries after 2008) or as a result of wrong-headed, economically foolish and socially destructive policies, as in the case of austerity policies in many regions, from Latin America to Asia to Southern Europe,” notes Mr. Bissio.

As per many studies, improved competitiveness, has resulted in widespread poverty and large scale unemployment. When these are coupled with loss of basic income or access to basic health facilities, there is a perverse increase in sovereign debt. As per a study, in the US alone, the last two decades saw a steady increase in poverty. Currently more than 50 million people in the US are affected by it.

In 2013, another study concluded that 16.2 million people were either effected by poverty or by social exclusion which is around 20.3% of its population. In the EU, this figure is about 24.5%.

In order to address this growing problem, the Open Working Group has requested these countries to “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 [by 2030]”.