Reducing Poverty and Inequality as Part of the 2030 Agenda

Project description

Title: Sector programme Reducing Poverty and Inequality as Part of the 2030 Agenda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global
Overall term: 2017 to 2020



Reducing poverty and inequality are core objectives of German development cooperation. As cross-cutting themes they are crucial to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda aims to ‘end poverty in all its forms everywhere’ (SDG 1) and to ‘reduce inequality within and among countries (SDG 10). The significance of poverty and inequality is also manifested in the implementation principle of the 2030 Agenda – ‘Leave no one behind’ (LNOB).

Poverty and inequality should be understood as multi-dimensional conditions. They include socio-economic factors such as income, access to education and health care, political empowerment and participation, along with socio-cultural factors such as status and dignity, plus environmental aspects such as vulnerability to natural disasters. The different dimensions are interdependent – for example educational inequality reinforces income inequality – and vice versa.

Even though considerable progress has been made worldwide in reducing poverty in recent years – extreme income poverty across the globe has been halved since 1990 – in 2015 around 700 million people were still living on less than USD 1.90 per day. In addition, 1.45 billion people live in multi-dimensional poverty. This means that they have either insufficient or no access to education, health care and essential basic services such as energy and water.

Furthermore, alongside poverty reduction and economic growth it is also important to address inequality. It is true that inequality between countries has fallen slightly since the first decade after 2000 due to economic growth in some emerging economies – especially China and India. At the same time, however, income inequality within countries has increased worldwide during the past 25 years. Against this background, rising inequality can jeopardise sustainable development and must therefore be considered as one of the major factors when designing development measures.


Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is strengthened for SDG 1 and SDG 10 and for the LNOB principle in German development cooperation.

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The project advises the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on implementing the 2030 Agenda, primarily for the SDGs mentioned above.

To this end, existing instruments such as country and sector strategies are being revised and new approaches for reducing inequality are being developed. The project also offers advisory and training services for key German development cooperation actors to equip them with the expertise required for implementation.

The project supports the establishment of a multi-stakeholder network to promote the LNOB principle and enhance cooperation on achieving SDG 10 of the 2030 Agenda (reduce inequality). In addition, a regional conference on inequality will be held in South Africa. The target group consists of representatives from academia and the scientific community, policy-makers and practitioners. The event will encourage North-South dialogue and promotion of the international inequality network. The increased cooperation with think tanks from the global South also promises important findings for advising BMZ.

Moreover, the Inequality Challenge innovation fund aims to address the topics of inequality and LNOB in the partner countries of German development cooperation in new ways, to generate learning experience, and to develop and apply innovative instruments for reducing inequality in partner countries.


Poverty orientation: One main objective of the sector programme is to reduce poverty. In addition to refining and improving BMZ concepts and instruments in German development cooperation, the project aims to generate medium and long-term positive impacts for the poor as the main beneficiaries in the cooperation countries. Individual promotional measures in the partner countries can be used to reach selected groups directly.

Gender equality: Improved coordination of different policy areas also includes gender mainstreaming. For instance, central aspects of eliminating gender inequalities are addressed by the implementation of the innovation fund.

Participatory development and good governance: The development and realisation of approaches for governance designed to reduce poverty and inequality is a central aim of the project and feeds into the advisory services for partner countries.

Impacts on human rights: By making German development cooperation more effective at ending poverty and reducing inequalities, the project simultaneously promotes respect for human rights.

The results achieved so far by the sector programme include supporting BMZ in elaborating fundamental concepts, including shaping the policy agenda. Consideration is also given to the LNOB principle and the corresponding approaches and networks both in the German development cooperation structure and in the multi-lateral discourse. In addition, the predecessor project piloted approaches relevant to poverty and inequality in the German development cooperation portfolio.