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Addressing inequalities is a moral and practical necessity, says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake

Print version
21 February 2013
Press release
  • In his opening remarks at The Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held 18–19 February in Copenhagen, Denmark, Executive Director Anthony Lake spoke of the growing inequalities that are an impediment to sustai
  • The meeting, which brought together high-level civil society, government and United Nations participants, was the culmination of a several-months-long global consultation process.
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COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 21 February 2013 — «We should be asking not only what growth will do for equity…but also what equity will do for growth.»

In his opening remarks at The Leadership Meeting on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda held on 18–19 February in Copenhagen, Denmark, Executive Director Anthony Lake channeled the spirit of former United States President John F. Kennedy to articulate one of the central themes of the two-day meeting — that growing inequalities impede sustainable and equitable growth and harm all parts of society, not just those who are poor or marginalized.

Addressing inequalities — today and in the post-2015 agenda — is, therefore, not only a moral imperative, but also a practical necessity for development progress, social cohesion and sustainable economic growth.

Global consultation

UNICEF and UN Women, together with the Governments of Denmark and Ghana, convened the meeting, which brought together high-level civil society, government and United Nations participants. The meeting was the culmination of a several-months-long global consultation process that leveraged online capabilities to engage with a diverse global audience at:

Day one of the meeting was dedicated to continued public dialogue with civil society and other stakeholders. Members of the Addressing Inequalities Advisory Group presented on and answered questions about the consultation and resulting report from an in-person and online audience. The day’s sessions were live-streamed and live-tweeted. Nearly 1,100 online users visited the Addressing Inequalities space during the day of live-streamed sessions.

Day two of the meeting brought together high-level political, civil society and United Nations leaders to discuss further the issues that had emerged through the consultation process. The day’s discussions were chaired by Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission in Ghana Paul Victor Obeng, Mr. Lake and Executive Director of UN Women Michelle Bachelet. A chairpersons’ statement that outlined a number of far-reaching recommendations for tackling inequalities was released yesterday.


The recommendations emphasize that addressing inequalities is a prerequisite for effectively eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring sustainable socio-economic development. There was general agreement that inequality represents one of the biggest social, economic and political challenges at the global level today. Special emphasis was given to the need for integrating human rights principles in a future development framework, in order to address the structural nature of inequalities — especially with regards to gender equality and the rights of girls and women.

The Addressing Inequalities consultation is part of a much broader process being facilitated by the United Nations at national, regional and global levels to inform the design of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The aim is to bring a diverse set of voices into the debate on what the next era of development should focus on beyond the year 2015, when the Millennium Development Goals are set to reach their target date.

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