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International Partnerships

Reducing inequalities

Tackling inequalities is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). SDG 10 aims at reducing by 2030 inequalities that persist within and among countries and that are based on income, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, religion and opportunity. Reducing these social and economic inequalities is not only key to ensuring that no one is left behind, it is also a necessary condition for sustainable poverty reduction and social cohesion.

Inequality is a major obstacle to sustainable economic growth. Unlike poverty — a characteristic that can be defined at the individual level — inequality is a relational concept that refers to differences between individuals or groups and covers various dimensions:

  • economic inequality (income, consumption or wealth)
  • social inequality (access to education or employment)
  • political inequality (decisions, participation, political resources)
  • environmental inequality (e.g. air or water pollution) and unequitable access to natural resources and other ecosystem services (e.g. land, parks and freshwater)

Our approach

To reduce inequality, we must understand its causes and consequences, which can be complex and deeply rooted in social, economic, political and environmental systems and resources. The EU’s approach is therefore multifold. We support actions to:

  • empower women and create opportunities for youth and disadvantaged communities
  • increase economic inclusion and create decent work and higher incomes
  • enhance social services and ensure access to social protection
  • facilitate safe migration and mobility and tackle irregular migration
  • foster pro-poor fiscal policies and develop fair and transparent tax systems
  • encourage domestic resource mobilisation and stimulate public and private sector development

Our action

The Research facility on inequalities is an initiative of the European Commission, implemented by the French development agency AFD (Agence française de développement). It seeks to enhance knowledge and understanding of economic and social inequalities to better respond to this complex development challenge.

The EU has participated in the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a global initiative to accelerate financial inclusion in partner countries.

In terms of supporting the rights of persons with disabilities, the EU-funded Bridging the Gap project carries out actions to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities at both the international and country level.

Our priorities

Reducing inequality is a clear EU priority: both internally, as enshrined in EU treaties and reflected in the European Pillar of Social Rights, and externally, as the European Consensus on development makes it a priority of EU development cooperation policy to eradicate poverty, tackle discrimination and inequality, and make sure no one is left behind.

Reducing inequality is also rooted in EU’s commitments to promote and protect human rights, as the principles of non-discrimination and equality are complementing principles of international human rights law.

Interlinkage with other SDGs

Reducing inequality resonates throughout other SDGs; such as ending poverty and hunger (SDG1 and SDG2), good health and wellbeing (SDG3), quality education (SDG4), gender equality (SDG5), clean water and sanitation (SDG6), affordable and clean energy (SDG7), decent work and economic growth (SDG8), resilient infrastructures and inclusive industrialisation (SDG9) as well as more inclusive cities (SDG11) and sustainable ecosystems (SDG15).


14 416 000 migrants,
forcibly displaced or individuals from host communities supported by the EU between 2018-2020

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Addressing Income Inequality through Development Cooperation : A Quick Guide