How inclusive, sustainable is growth in G20 countries?

World leaders pose for a picture during the G20 summit in Cannes, France. Photo by: Alfredo Guerrero / Gobierno Federal / CC BY-NC-SA

The world’s 20 leading economies appear off track to meet their shared commitment to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

A new report by Oxfam International says income inequality is growing in 16 of the G-20 member countries. Only South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina have reduced their income gaps in the past 20 years. And even with these four, only South Korea grew to high-income status.

G-20 member countries also largely fail in terms of promoting sustainable development, the report says, noting that current trends in G-20 countries’ resource use are “deeply disturbing.”

Arguing that the poor are hit hardest by the countries’ unsustainable use of natural resources, the Oxfam report says “G20 member countries must therefore act far more decisively to bring their use of natural resources back within sustainable limits.”

The report suggests policy changes and strong political will if G-20 countries want to meet their pledge. And while it calls for country-specific policy changes, the organization outlines a few starting points, including:

  • Investment in universal access to education and health.

  • Progressive taxation.

  • Provision of equal rights and opportunities to women.

  • Reforms in land ownership to ensure right access to land.

  • Investment in small-scale food producers and clean energy research and development.

  • Tax breaks to promote and guide private investment.

  • Regulations that reward sustainable initiatives and sanction companies that pollute the environment.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.