World Social Report 2020

This report sheds a light on inequality - focusing on technology, climate change, urbanisation and migration.

The World Social Report 2020 entitled Inequality in a rapidly changing world was published by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat in January 2020. It examines the impact of four megatrends on inequality: technological innovation, climate change, urbanisation and international migration. 

The accelerating winds of climate change are being unleashed around the world, but the poorest countries and groups are suffering most, especially those living in rural areas, the authors state. These people are highly dependent on agricultural, fishing and other ecosystem-related income. Their lives and livelihoods are finely attuned to environmental conditions that are now changing rapidly, they write. 

For the first time in history, more people now live in urban than in rural areas. Urbanisation offers unmatched opportunities, they say; nevertheless, urban areas are more unequal than rural areas.

International migration allows millions of people to seek new opportunities and can help reduce global disparities, but only if it occurs under orderly and safe conditions.

Technological change can be an engine of economic growth, offering new possibilities in health care, education, communication and productivity. But it can also exacerbate wage inequality and displace workers. 

Whether these mega-trends are harnessed to encourage a more equitable and sustainable world, or allowed to exacerbate disparities and divisions, will largely determine the shape of our common future.

(UN/ile)

Read more and download the World Social Report 2020