Strategic Dialogue on Poverty and Inequality in Asia and the Pacific

5 Oct 2017 to 6 Oct 2017
Bangkok, Thailand

With 1.2 billion people in Asia and the Pacific living on less than $3.10 a day, of which one-third lives on less than $1.90 a day, the region is home to half of the word’s poor. Despite sustained economic growth and substantial reductions in poverty, gains have disproportionately benefited the richest. With rising inequality, the challenge to end poverty in the region – and the world - could be a hard win.

Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, governments have pledged to eradicate poverty (Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1) and to reduce inequalities within and among countries (SDG 10). Despite an increasing body of knowledge on these topics, development partners, researchers and policymakers struggle to identify and prioritize strategies and policies that are truly effective for achieving these goals.

To create a shared understanding on measurement issues and help uncover creative solutions for reducing inequality and eradicating poverty in the region, ESCAP, as the regional development arm of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific organized a Strategic Dialogue on Poverty and Inequality in Bangkok. The Dialogue brought together some 30 experts and practitioners, who contributed latest ideas and thinking. The Dialogue took place from 5 to 6 October 2017 in Bangkok.

The Dialogue aimed to answer several questions of technical nature, such as “how are poverty and inequality framed and measured”, and “what innovative ways are there to help measure and better understand poverty and inequality”. The Dialogue was also intended to provide feedback to ESCAP’s ongoing work on inequality of opportunity and identifying the furthest behind. A final objective was to discuss approaches for measuring and reducing poverty and inequality that have worked in the field – and how these could be replicated. As an added takeaway from the Dialogue, participants had the opportunity to learn about ongoing research in three leading institutions.

Session 1: What are the key trends in poverty and inequality around the globe?
This session provided an overview of top-line trends in poverty and inequality from around the globe.

Session 2: What are the insights from key databases and measurements of poverty and inequality?
This session took a deeper look at the data commonly used to understand poverty and inequality, underlying data sources and strategies to overcome gaps.

Session 3: What other databases and measurements are out there?
This session discussed complementary data and innovative methods that can support research, enhance knowledge and policymaking for reducing poverty and inequality in Asia and the Pacific.

Session 4: What lessons have we learned from the field?
This session explored lessons learned from implementing programmes designed to reduce poverty and level out inequality and how successful measures can be scaled up and replicated.

Session 5: Who are the furthest behind in Asia and the Pacific?
This session discussed ESCAP’s recent work on identifying those furthest behind.

Session 6: What does the future of research on poverty and inequality look like?
In this session, participants had the opportunity to attend two out of three discussion groups and gain a deeper understanding of latest research on poverty and inequality.

Session 7: How can employment and public policy more effectively level out inequality and in what ways can evidence be used to inform this process?
This session discussed public policy options to reduce inequalities, ranging from social protection and different forms of taxation to the importance of analytical tools for policymaking.