Reduce inequality within and among countries is the tenth goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
“The world is more unequal today than at any time in history since 1940“. That is how the UN, the United Nations, shows how we are still far from guaranteeing a dignified life for the entire world population. According to the international institution, the income disparity and the concentration of wealth not only seems to have increased in recent decades, but is producing devastating effects on our cities’ development.
It is not difficult to see how these inequalities affect the urban territory. After all, besides the income differences, we need to remember that not everyone has access to decent housing, infrastructure, basic health services, sanitation or job opportunities. There are also those who do not have the opportunity to take part in public decisions or who suffer some type of social discrimination, whether due to disability, gender, race or religion.
According to Oxfam, an organization that brings together 19 philanthropic entities to fight against poverty, just over two thousand people in the world, all of them billionaires, have a wealth equivalent to 60% of the world population. If we consider the 1% richest people in the world, its possessions represent two times the income of another 6.9 billion people. The differences do not end there: according to the report, women do more than 75% of all unpaid care work in the world.
With such negative numbers, how can we change this scenario? This is precisely the mission of the UN. Included as the tenth goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities aims to “reduce inequality within and among countries”. According to the institution, achieving such an ambitious goal is possible, but requires actions that focus on the eradication of poverty, social inequalities and discrimination.
Being a specialist in smart cities, Bright Cities supports the strategy. We understand that, to eradicate such a complex problem, we need policies that involve the most different aspects of a city, such as health, education and governance. That is why municipal governments must offer and guarantee to all of their citizens the access to services and better life opportunities.
The good news is that our online platform helps cities of any scale or nationality to get there: with innovative diagnoses and smart solutions, we make them smarter everyday! Our disruptive technology can identify the inequality in a municipality by analyzing ten areas of urban management: Governance, Education, Health, Urbanism, Environment, Security, Mobility, Entrepreneurship and Technology and Innovation.
Each one of these areas can make a city more inclusive. We can talk, for example, about the role of Education, and how it is a municipality duty to offer a good education system to children and adults, as mentioned in SDG 4 – Quality education. With better education, the population can search for better job opportunities, increase their income and contribute to the local economy. The same can be said about Entrepreneurship and Technology. If a city can create a favorable environment for investments and new businesses, as stated in SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth, the demand for jobs will increase and more people will have guaranteed income.
As a last example, we can also think about the Environment and Urbanism. In cities with a more ordered occupation of the territory, including sewage and garbage properly treated – as said in SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation, we can expect more preserved natural resources, houses with access to basic services and less recurrent diseases and contamination.
Using 160 international indicators, our platform analyzes the information obtained from each of these ten urban areas to discover which ones should be improved and which solutions and technologies can transform the city’s management in the most efficient way. We believe that data-based policies are the safest and most accurate way of mapping such inequalities and making efficient decisions to combat them. We listed some of these indicators below to tell why they are an important tool for managers to identify, evaluate and improve urban conditions towards SDG 10:
- Indicator “Percentage of school-age population enrolled in school”: indicates the amount of the population that have access to education, as mentioned by goal 10.2 of SDG 2: “By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status“;
- Indicator “Percentage of the population living in slums”: with the data obtained, a city can identify the amount of people living in irregular housing, thus taking actions towards the goal 10.2 of SDG 2: “By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status“;
- Indicator “Percentage of women employed in the city government”: indicates the proportion of women occupying political positions in a given city, revealing issues such as gender representation. The data are aligned with goal 10.3 of SDG 10: “Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard“.
- Understanding the urgency, scale and budget that public managers have in hand, the Bright Cities platform identifies areas that need improvement and maps smart solutions to reduce the socio-economic inequalities encountered. Today, we have the largest database in the world in smart solutions and good urban practices, with more than 1,000 registered initiatives. Our database is constantly updated and never stops growing, always including solutions recommended by us after a complete validation process.
After understanding the urgency, scale and budget that public managers have in hand, Bright Cities online platform then identifies which areas need improvement and which smart solutions can reduce the socio-economic inequalities found during the diagnosis. Today, we have the largest database in the world for smart solutions and good urban practices, with more than 1,000 registered initiatives. Our database is constantly updated and never stops growing, always including solutions recommended by us after a complete validation process.
One of these solutions is MORADIGNA, a Brazilian initiative that develops house reforms for families of classes C and D. Through a package called Reforma Express, which includes material, labor, design and execution, the company carries out cheap and quick works (lasting about five days) to transform unhealthy homes.
Intelligent solutions are essential for promoting new and better cities. Concerning inequalities, the UN says that the income gap increased by 11% in developing countries between 1990 and 2010. The research also show that up to 30% of income inequality is due to inequality in families, including among women and men: women are more likely than men to live on just 50% of average income.
The UN also states that while social campaigns against poverty have increased in recent years, the numbers still show a long way to go:
- In 2016, 1% of the world population represented 22% of all the world’s income. Meanwhile, 50% of the world population represents only 10% of the global wealth;
- It is estimated that 1% of the world’s richest population will represent 39% of income by 2050;
- Currently, only 45% of the global population is effectively covered by at least one social protection program;
- Women spend, on average, twice as much time on unpaid household chores as men;
- Women have equal access to financial services than men in only 60% of the countries assessed.
Also according to the UN, Brazil is the 2nd largest country in concentration of income in the world, only behind Qatar. There, the richest 1% concentrates 28.3% of the country’s total income, that is, almost a third of the national income is in the hands of the richest. The country is also losing positions in the socio-economic indexes: this year it went from the 78th to the 79th place in the Human Development Index (HDI).
With the coronavirus pandemic, the situation is worse: the disease has not only deepened existing inequalities, affecting mainly the poorest and most vulnerable communities, but it has also made clear how fragile the social policies around the world are. Worldwide, we should soon reach 1 billion people living in densely packed slums or irregular settlements with high risks of contamination. Refugees and migrants, indigenous people and the elderly are at risk of being the most affected.
When we talk about the economy, the pandemic has increased global unemployment and reduced the income of many families, who have returned to poverty. According to the World Bank, 49 million people may enter extreme poverty in 2020. Predictions made by economists from the Getúlio Vargas Foundation estimate that, by the end of the year, Brazil may have 17.8% of unemployed workers – the highest number since the beginning of the historical series, in 1981.
For the UN, technology is a way to reduce inequalities during and after the pandemic. The automation and digitalization of the world can not only allow many employees to improve their productivity, but also create of new activities in the labor market. However, the population must has the access and the instructions to use these innovations – hence the importance of education and investments in infrastructure to guarantee access to these digital technologies.
We can also mention water supply and sanitation, social housing projects, garbage collection, day care centers and public schools and social assistance projects, among many others, as services capable of reducing inequalities. With so many demands, it is not difficult to see why the focus on equality depends on joint actions taken by an entire municipality and all its departments.
On Bright Cities online platform, all collected data is reunited in one place to create a unified way of visualization and access. This way, we enhance the work of municipal management by making available contents which were previously inaccessible and consolidating results from years of research in a digital platform with attractive design.
Expert in smart cities, Bright Cities remains committed to helping managers, entrepreneurs and institutions to recognize their share of responsibility and to take concrete actions towards the SDGs. Discover our online platform and find out how can we upgrade your city!