UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


IGP collaborates with WEF to produce an inequality map highlighting barriers to global prosperity

15 June 2021

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has mapped hundreds of global issues and their interdependencies. The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) has co-curated the strategic intelligence map on inequality - highlighting barriers to global prosperity.

inequality between housing

The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated and exposed inequalities worldwide, highlighting the damaging impact of poor infrastructure, the lack of adequate health services, divergent work security and caring responsibilities, and how poor political strategies not only impact individual lives but have significant effects on a global scale. Differential vaccine rollouts between the global North and South illustrate not just poor political foresight for tackling what is a global crisis, but the disastrous outcomes of inequality today.

To move away from a poverty reduction approach which has limited reach in improving quality of life for all we must develop new ideas as to what a redefined vision of prosperity can and should look like on a global scale. Inequality is more than financial and socio-economic differences; its multiplicity makes it an integral obstacle impeding the changes we need to make for future innovations towards prosperity for all.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has mapped hundreds of global issues and their interdependencies together with experts from universities, think-tanks, international organizations, or other research institutions. The Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) contributed and has developed the WEF strategic intelligence map on inequality - highlighting barriers to global prosperity. The resulting transformation map enables users to explore and monitor the key issues and forces driving continuing inequality and systemic disadvantages globally.

Covid-19 has shifted the landscape of inequality and the strategic map highlights emerging trends driving inequality

Perspectives and actions on how to overcome inequality must start from the foundation of redefining what prosperity means to people and communities. IGP research shows how there is not one single redefinition of prosperity, thus the pathways to achieving prosperity and reducing inequality will be multiple and diverse – there is no one-size-fits all approach. Reactive approaches, as we have seen in the pandemic, are ineffectual in the long run, this map begins to highlight proactive pathways to achieving equality.

The IGP highlights seven key themes related to inequality globally. Tackling issues such as urban sprawl, citizen participation and the lack of it, censorship and technological disparities, climate change and biodiversity, intersectionality and mental health - the IGP and the WEF intend to highlight the multiplicity of inequality in its various forms:

1. Livelihoods and Infrastructure
2. Global Trends in Inequality
3. Power, Influence and Voice
4. Institutions and Inequality
5. Technology and Inequality
6. The ’Biosphere’ and Inequality
7. Belonging, Identity and Culture

This strategic map provides a platform to expose a plethora of inequalities on a global scale and helps us understand how emerging forms of inequality link to global phenomena such as climate change. This is vital to address widening inequalities and disparities that have been intensified due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Our research shows that mitigating inequality demands a mixture of bottom-up and top-down changes and this map highlights areas of improvement and achievement through a global lens.

World Economic Forum: Strategic Map — Inequality