Inequalities are multi-dimensional, multi-layered and cumulative. The Report makes clear that understanding and acting effectively upon inequalities requires looking beyond income and wealth disparities to capture their political, environmental, social, cultural, spatial, and knowledge features. Untangling such complexity is a challenge we must fully take on – if we are to develop policies and solutions that are feasible and sustainable.
The Report also emphasizes that the costs of inequalities are very high and borne by all – not just by the deprived and the excluded, but collectively, by current and future generations, in the form of heightened conflict and instability, economic and fiscal losses, environmental degradation, and political tensions. Reducing inequalities is thus everyone’s concern.
Countering inequalities requires robust knowledge – but knowledge alone is not enough. The challenge is to improve the connection between what we know and how we act: to mobilize the knowledge of the social and human sciences to inform policies, underpin decisions and enable wise and transparent management of the shift towards more equitable and inclusive societies. In this sense, investment in knowledge is a down-payment for informed change.
And in some respects, even the knowledge we have is not fully adequate. Social science research agendas equally require revisiting. The Report calls for a step change towards a research agenda that is interdisciplinary, multiscale and globally inclusive, creating pathways for transformative knowledge.