Only an economic revolution can defuse the global inequality timebomb

Written by Nicholas Lusiani, senior researcher at the Centre for Economic and Social Rights and Helen Dennis, senior adviser on poverty and inequality at Christian Aid in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog

“Focus on global inequality has gone mainstream. From papal proclamations to warnings of impending doom by the economist Thomas Piketty, social injustice is making headlines. Yet the issue is still not being considered seriously enough in the byzantine process of setting new development goals: the spotlight has remained on economic growth.

Tackling economic inequality is not easy, but as Piketty and others have stressed, ignoring it could create a timebomb, not least because it limits a country’s ability to uphold human rights.

An ambitious, post-2015 fiscal revolution is needed to address key questions at the heart of sustainable development: how to raise enough resources; how to ensure those resources are used to tackle inequality and ensure no one is left behind; and how to provide transparency and accountability over public policy.

The question of who pays for all this is a political hot potato. The cost of delivering new sustainable development goals (SDGs), including climate change commitments, will be about $1tn per year.

The millennium development goals (MDGs) have been underfunded to the tune of $120bn, and with the SDGs we are talking about a much more ambitious programme.

Despite the financial crisis, the world has never been richer. The challenge is to use this wealth better, but a new approach is vital. That is why ideas such as a sustainable development solidarity capital tax, based on Piketty’s proposal for Europe, should be considered.”

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