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Beirut Presentation of the UNRISD Flagship Report, Combating Poverty and Inequality

Date: 11 Nov 2010



UNRISD presented its 2010 Flagship Report, Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics, at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Beirut, Lebanon, on 11 November 2010.

The presentation took place at 18:00 pm during the 14th UN Regional Coordination Mechanism Meeting.

Speaking at the launch, Acting Director of ESCWA, Tarek Alami, said that unemployment was a major development challenge in most Arab countries and had risen dramatically in Arab least developed countries. The number of poor in the region, based on national lower poverty lines, had increased in the last 10 years from 34.9 million to 35.2 million. Mr. Alami suggested some short-term macroeconomic policies that could help reduce poverty, including pro-poor fiscal policies, improved tax systems, limiting tax evasion, progressive taxation and countercyclical fiscal policies.

The overview of the report was translated into Arabic and published in collaboration with ESCWA.

About the Report

Poverty reduction is a central feature of the international development agenda and contemporary poverty reduction strategies increasingly focus on “targeting the poor”, yet poverty and inequality remain intractable foes.

Combating Poverty and Inequality argues that this is because many current approaches to reducing poverty and inequality fail to consider key institutional, policy and political dimensions that may be both causes of poverty and inequality, and obstacles to their reduction.

The report is structured around three main issues, which, it argues, are the critical elements of a sustainable and inclusive development strategy:
  • patterns of growth and structural change (whether in the agricultural, industrial or service sectors) that generate and sustain jobs that are adequately remunerated and accessible to all, regardless of income or class status, gender, ethnicity or location;
  • comprehensive social policies that are grounded in universal rights and that are supportive of structural change, social cohesion and democratic politics; and
  • protection of civic rights, activism and political arrangements that ensure states are responsive to the needs of citizens and the poor have influence in how policies are made.

The report lays out a range of policies and institutional measures that countries can adopt to alleviate poverty and inequality. It will thus be of interest to policy, scholarly and activist audiences.