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Social Development

Inequality and Leaving No One Behind


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a call to leave no one behind. 

Yet in Asia and the Pacific, prior the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 233 million people lived in extreme poverty, below the international poverty line of $1.90 a day. Another 1 billion people were trapped on incomes less than $3.20 a day (the lower middle-income poverty line. Close to 2 billion lived on less than $5.50 per day. ESCAP estimates that up to 93 million additional people may have fallen below the $3.20 per day poverty line due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
Inequality also persists. Gaps are particularly high in completion of secondary and higher education, reliance of clean fuels, as well as access to finance and the Internet. Income inequality is increasing in many countries and the world’s most unequal countries in wealth ownership are also found in our region. 

Our response

To help governments reverse these trends, we advocate for a stronger focus on measuring inequality, particularly inequality of opportunity, such as education, clean energy, water and sanitation, nutrition and health care. Our methodology centers around identifying the furthest behind, who usually experience intersecting disadvantages. Our research relies on innovative analytical tools to identify those left furthest behind. Our results are featured in ESCAP publications, including our flagship Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific, as well as other knowledge products.

Our work

  • Hands-on trainings on measuring inequality of opportunity and producing LNOB analysis (forthcoming).