E-discussion: Urban inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda

News, 8 January 2013
UNICEF, UN Habitat and the International Institute for Environment and Development are moderating an online discussion addressing inequalities, from 4-18 January 2013.

Boys stand talking in an undeveloped playground in Karachi, Pakistan.

The discussion takes place on the World We Want website, which is open to the public, following a simple registration process.

The recommendations emerging from your contributions will be incorporated into a report on ‘Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda’, to be presented at a high-level meeting in February 2013 in Copenhagen. The report will also be transmitted to the High-level Panel on Post-2015, appointed by the UN Secretary-General.


Despite many of the successes of the MDGs, they have not managed to fully address the values and principles outlined in the Millennium Declaration, particularly in relation to human rights and equality.  Addressing inequalities in the post-2015 development agenda means looking at both equality of opportunities and outcomes (or lack thereof), and entrenched structural factors,  that perpetuate various forms of inequalities such as discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, age, location, etc. 

While cities have long been associated with employment, development and economic growth, hundreds of millions in the world’s urban areas live amid scarcity and deprivation. According to UNICEF’s “The State of the World’s Children: Children in an Urban World,” the world’s urban population increases by about 60 million annually. By 2050, 7 in 10 people will live in cities and towns. As a result of a rapidly increasing urban population, many are denied such essentials as clean water, electricity and health care even though they may live close to these services. Thus, investment in addressing the needs of those living in urban areas is the cornerstone for healthy societies with more sustainable and inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity. People living in urban areas – as creators of innovative solutions and as stakeholders in both present and future progress – should be highly involved, as a matter of course, in the discussions, design and eventual implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 development agenda.


The e-discussions are a series of time-bound, moderated dialogues designed to seek the views of a broad range of stakeholders including governments, UN and other development agencies, civil society, philanthropic organizations, the private sector, and most importantly, the general public. The recommendations emerging from the e-discussions will be part of a synthesis report that will be presented to a high-level meeting in Denmark in February 2013 on Inequalities. The report will also be provided to the High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda appointed by the UN Secretary-General.

To participate, representatives of civil society, academia, the UN, governments, the private sector and others are invited to visit the discussion forum at: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/inequalities to follow the discussion and post a response.  The site is available in English, French and Spanish and contributions are welcomed in any of the sixty languages supported by Google Translate.  For those unable to access the site, replies may be emailed to inequalities@worldwewant2015.org.

Discussion website: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/inequalities / Further enquiries: inequalities@worldwewant2015.org.

The conversation aims to draw out the answers to the following questions, under the themes outlined below.

  1. What are the most important forms of inequalities faced by people living in urban areas? - including discussion of where and among whom these challenges occur, their severity, the evidence about them, etc.
  2. What are the major structural factors at the root of these inequalities, within and among different societies?
  3. What kinds of policies, strategies or interventions have been most successful in addressing the various inequalities experienced by people living in urban areas? And under which conditions/in which situations have particular policies, strategies or interventions had the greatest, lasting impact? (Contributors may wish to cite examples or give references to these “successes”).
  4. Based on experience, what are the most important recommendations that could be proposed in the Post-2015 Development Agenda for making a lasting and transformative impact on the different forms of inequalities faced by people living in urban areas?
  5. What actions and initiatives could be taken by different stakeholders, including civil society, to bring about lasting improvements in these inequalities? And how should those who face inequalities themselves be enabled to participate in the implementation phase of the new Development Framework?

To help us engage with urban inequalities we are proposing that the time is divided into a number of themes:

  1. January 4-5 - Experiences of being an urban citizen – including the role of children and young people, security and safety.
  2. January 6-7 – Spatial inequalities – including how are cities being planned, including exposure to pollution and flooding risks.
  3. January 6-7 Social inequalities – including migrant populations, women, adolescents
  4. January 10-11 - Political inequalities – including recognition, participation, decentralized decision making, data.
  5. January 12-13 - Income inequalities – including recyclers, market traders, social protection.
  6. January 14-15 - Solutions for addressing inequalities – including community-led solutions
  7. January 16-18 - Concrete recommendations for High Level panel – recommendations from the consultations will be drafted by UNICEF, IIED and Habitat and presented to the consultation for discussion and agreement by the 18 HJnauary.

The official joining instructions for the global consultation are below. 

Please click the link and follow the instructions to register.

To participate, please visit this site and post your response in the discussion forum, starting from 4 January.   

If you are unable to access the site or have any problems, please email your response to: inequalities@worldwewant2015.org.

This is a public, open-access discussion forum and contributions are welcomed from all those with a stake in the next development agenda.  This is an opportunity to influence that agenda, and you are encouraged to share the voices of the people or communities you represent, particularly those who are not able to access the consultations online.


Diana Mitlin (diana.mitlin@iied.org)

Notes to editors

The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent, non-profit research institute. Set up in 1971 and based in London, IIED provides expertise and leadership in researching and achieving sustainable development (see: www.iied.org).

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