As inequality grows, the UN fights for a fairer world

@ UNICEF/Sebastian Rich Five-year-old Kiara makes a sale in a commuter train car in Buenos Aires, the capital. She has been working in the Subte, the city’s mass transit system, selling hairpins and other cheap goods, since she was three years old.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the UN’s blueprint for a better and more sustainable future for all – calls for a reduction in inequality between and within countries. Nevertheless, global inequality is increasing. So what can be done?

Inequality is an “entrenched imbalance”

The question of inequality was raised several times by the UN in January: speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, UN chief António Guterres pointed out that, while technological progress and globalization have led to “fantastic improvements” in many areas, they have also increased inequality and marginalized millions.

And, in her annual letter, Lise Kingo, CEO of the UN Global Compact, which supports private sector efforts to do business responsibly, noted that, in 2018, we saw “a small group of individuals are getting exponentially richer as billions are left behind in poverty.”

Inequality is not only rising, it is also an “entrenched imbalance,” according to Richard Kozul-Wright, a globalization expert and Director with the Trade and Development agency UNCTAD.

In an interview with UN News, which you can listen to here, Mr. Kozul-Wright said that notionally high employment rates in many economies mask the fact that wages and working conditions are not improving, and that whilst wages have been stagnant for a decade, dividends on shareholdings have been recovering, benefiting financial asset holders. His remarks came in the wake of the January launch of the 2019 World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report which showed uneven growth (both between and within countries) that is often failing to reach where it is most needed.

Will AI take away our jobs, or transform them?

The beginning of 2019 saw a focus on the role of technology on the world of work, and the impact it is having on inequality. The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a landmark report in January: the Global Commission on the Future of Work. This study concluded that technological innovations provide “countless opportunities” for workers, but warned that, if these technologies are not deployed as part of a human-centred agenda based on investing in people, work institutions and decent, sustainable employment, we run the risk of “sleepwalking into a world that widens existing inequalities and uncertainties.”

One of the key technological innovations mentioned in the report, one that garners significant media attention, is artificial intelligence (AI). A report from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), published at the tail-end of January, noted a “quantum leap” in AI-related patents, suggesting that AI could soon “revolutionize all areas of daily life beyond the tech world.”

AI inspires as much fear as excitement, evoking  a dystopian world in which more and more work is carried out by machines, with society split between a tiny super-rich elite and the rest, an unemployable mass of people with no prospect of finding work.

Kriti Sharma doesn’t see things that way. She has been recognized by the UN as a Young Leader For Sustainable Development Goals, in recognition of her work to ensure that AI helps to create a better, fairer world, through her AI For Good organization, and her role in the Sage Future Makers Lab, which was set up to equip young people around the world with hands-on learning for entering a career in Artificial Intelligence.

Speaking to UN News, Ms. Sharma acknowledged that people who live in countries which are on the wrong side of the digital divide (with less access to data) will be at a disadvantage, and pointed to studies that show a gender divide is looming, with women twice as likely to lose their jobs to automation, because of the kind of work they are involved in: “We need to make sure that we give people enough opportunities to reskill themselves, otherwise we end up creating more inequality that we had before.”

However, she believes that one of the biggest risks is failing to embrace this technology, and not equipping people with the skills to use it to solve global problems. Ms. Sharma laid out three ways to help ensure that AI brings about a fairer world.

First of all, it is important that a diverse group of people from many backgrounds are creating this technology, people who “understand society, policy-makers.” The second point is to ensure that AI is being used to solve the “right problems,” such as accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals, by diverting energy, research and funding into this area. And, lastly, international standards must be agreed upon, to make sure that the technology we create is used in a way that is safe and ethical for the world.

No progress without international cooperation

So, what is the way out of the “entrenched imbalance” of inequality? For the UN, a greater emphasis on international cooperation is an important part of the solution. The 2019 World Economic Situation and Prospects report concludes that, at a global level, a “cooperative and long-term strategy for global policy” is the way towards progress in reducing income inequality, and warns that a “withdrawal from multilateralism will pose further setbacks for those already being left behind.”

As the Secretary-General told the audience in Davos, a coordinated and global response is the only way to fight inequality, because “we need to work together. There is no way we can do isolated responses to the problems we face, they are all interlinked.”

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Young people meet in Malta to shape the future of Europe

As human caravan moves through Mexico, ‘full respect’ needed for national control of borders: UN chief

‘Continue working together’ UN chief urges DR Congo, as country heads to polls

World Cancer Day: Early cervical cancer diagnosis could save lives of over 300,000 women

UN launches plan to promote peace, inclusive growth in Africa’s Sahel

UN chief calls for ‘increased commitment’ to resolution on 10th anniversary of Georgia conflict

Eurozone at risk of home-made deflation and recession

UN refugee agency ‘deeply shocked’ at stabbing death of ‘deeply courageous’ Polish mayor

Health Education, is it a necessity?

The Brussels bureaucracy blocks the Youth Guarantee scheme

A Sting Exclusive: “Leading by example! EU must push for UN deal to avoid dangerous climate change”, European Parliament Vice-President Ulrike Lunacek cries out from Brussels

10th ASEM in Milan and the importance of being one: EU’s big challenge on the way to China

How close is the new financial Armageddon? IMF gives some hints

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

The Brexit factor in the US-China trade war and other conflicts

Two States ‘side-by-side’ is the ‘peaceful and just solution’ for Israel-Palestine conflict: Guterres

Fresh airstrikes kill dozens in conflict-ravaged Syria

UN and partners appeal for $920 million to meet ‘dire needs’ of Rohingya refugees

Medical Education is #NotATarget

EU Ambassadors in the EP: a multilateral approach to global challenges needed

EU budget: Making the EU fit for its role as strong global actor

The movement of anti-vaccers: taking humanity back 200 years

EU Parliament: Deposit guarantee and trading platform transparency sought

Main results of Environment Council of 09 October 2018

10 cities are predicted to gain megacity status by 2030

Why Italy will not follow the Greek road; Eurozone to change or unravel

Black Panther’s ‘General Okoye’ joins the fight against gender-based violence

MEPs call on EU countries to end precarious employment practices

The battle for the 2016 EU Budget to shake the Union; Commission and Parliament vs. Germany

‘Leaders who sanction hate speech’ encourage citizens to do likewise, UN communications chief tells Holocaust remembrance event

This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

ILO’s Bureau for Employers´Activities to publish new study on women in business and management

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Europe’s children urge leaders to commit to climate action at UN Climate Summit in Paris

European Commissioner for Youth wants young people to be at heart of policy making

The global economy isn’t working for women. Here’s what world leaders must do

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

How the United States can win back its manufacturing mojo

EYE to kick off on Friday: 8000+ young people discussing the future of Europe 1 – 2 June

India’s economy is growing fast, but its poorest areas lag behind. Here’s why this could be about to change

EU Copyright Directive: Google News threatens to leave Europe while media startups increasingly worry

Ecofin: ‘The Friday battle’ for the banking union

How fungi could save the world

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

Nigeria: UN chief ‘appalled’ by killing of aid worker; calls for release of remaining hostages

Germany openly seeks more advantages for its banks

A young student discusses the determinants of migration in the European Union

Erdogan vies to become Middle East Sultan over Khashoggi’s killing

Robots aren’t stealing all our jobs, says the World Bank’s chief economist

EU Budget 2019 deal: EP boosts support for researchers and the young

European Commission recommends to the European Council (Article 50) to find that decisive progress has been made in Brexit negotiations

European Semester Autumn Package: Bolstering inclusive and sustainable growth

Google prepares to final EU judgement over Android antitrust case

800,000 people commit suicide every year: WHO

A day in the life of a Rohingya refugee

‘Well-being of two million’ in Gaza at stake as emergency fuel runs dry: UN humanitarian coordinator

Eurozone slowly but surely builds its Banking Union

The economic cost of anti-vaccination movements in Italy

MWC 2016 LIVE: Mobile World Congress shows off planes, trams and automobiles

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s