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The World Social Report 2020

The World Social Report 2020: Inequality in a rapidly changing world was released on January 21, 2020, by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. This report analyses how technological innovation, climate change, urbanization and international migration are affecting inequality trends. According to this report, 71 per cent of the world’s population live in countries where inequality is growing. Inequality exists in several areas, especially in the economic, social and environmental fields, but also in areas such as ethnicity, religion, age, sex or other status.

Technological innovations such as advances in biology and genetics, robotics and artificial intelligence can be considered a big challenge if we think in terms of inequality and the access to technology. According to the report, “the new technologies are reinforcing various forms of inequality and creating new digital divides. Close to 87 per cent of the population of developed countries have Internet access, compared to 19 per cent in the least developed countries".

"For all its promise, technological change tends to create winners and losers, and its current pace brings new and urgent policy challenges". However, the report emphasizes that technological change can be a driver of economic growth, offering new possibilities in health care, education, communication and productivity.

The reduction of inequality is also among the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015 by the member countries. Unfortunately, the economic growth of the last years has failed to diminish the major differences between countries, taking into consideration that such inequalities have deep historical roots.

Societies that have extreme inequalities are less efficient at reducing poverty than those with low levels of inequality. For example, disparities in health and education can prevent people from breaking out of the poverty cycle, leading to disadvantage being passed to the next generation.

Economic and social inequalities, as well as insecurity inevitably will influence people to migrate. According to the United Nations, in 2019 the number of international migrants worldwide reached an estimated 272 million – up from 174 million in 2000.

Rising inequality is not inevitable, the report said. “Inequality levels and trends differ among countries that are at similar levels of development and equally exposed to trade, technological innovation and even the effects of climate change. National policies and institutions do matter.”

In the report’s foreword, UN Secretary-General António Guterres states, “The World Social Report 2020 sends a clear message: the future course of these complex challenges is not irreversible. Technological change, migration, urbanization and even the climate crisis can be harnessed for a more equitable and sustainable world, or they can be left to further divide us.”

The World Social Report 2020 can be found at:

You are invited to read the statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Global Poverty and the Well-being and Value of Children:

Pastor Nelu Burcea, PhD
Liaison to the United Nations