Here’s how inequality hampers inclusive growth for developing countries

In its fourth edition of its SDG Pulse report, data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (Unctad) new Inclusive Growth Index (IGI) reveal how development opportunities are beyond reach for many.

Women make their way home after receiving bags of food from a World Food Programme distribution point near Magomba, Swaziland. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

In its fourth edition of its SDG Pulse report, data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (Unctad) new Inclusive Growth Index (IGI) reveal how development opportunities are beyond reach for many.

Cape Town: In its fourth edition of its SDG Pulse report, data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (Unctad) new Inclusive Growth Index (IGI) reveal how development opportunities are beyond reach for many.

The index measures inclusive growth by looking into the countries’ performance across four pillars: economy, living conditions, equality and environment. Furthermore, it measures a countries’ ability to achieve such growth with a focus on gender equality and environmental sustainability.

“The SDG Pulse – an online statistical report updated annually – indicates uneven global progress and, for too many countries and goals, even reversion in accomplishing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Unctad said.

“It shows that progress has deteriorated under the compounding effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the rising costs of climate change,” it said.

Unctad added that the analysis is based on a range of Sustainable Development Goals indicators and official statistics relevant to trade, investment, financing for development, transport, technology and transition towards greener and higher value-added economy.

While the index’s top 30 performers reside from developed economies with Norway leading the global ranking, African countries such as Guinea, Nigeria and Lesotho have some of the lowest scores.

The disparities across the countries come in the form of internet access, a lack of safe drinking water and, for some, gender inequality.

“In terms of gender equality, 12 developing countries – seven from sub-Saharan Africa – made outstanding progress between 2009 and 2020,” read the report. “On average, Latin America was the best-performing developing region in that dimension.”

It added that amid the pandemic, the world is facing some of the most complex widespread environmental challenges in history, referring to climate change, rapid population growth, increasing urbanisation, as well as the increased conflict over land, water and energy resources.

Unctad believes that the IGI concept, economic growth and socially inclusive co-production associated with greater economic opportunity will be “unsustainable without efficient and sustainable use of natural resources” such as water, land and energy.

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