In 2015, the leaders of 193 governments promised to reduce inequality under Goal 10 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Without reducing inequality, meeting SDG 1 to eliminate poverty will be impossible. In 2017, Development Finance International (DFI) and Oxfam produced the first index to measure the commitment of governments to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor.
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New Oxfam research shows that four pharmaceutical corporations—Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co. (also known as MSD), and Pfizer—systematically stash their profits in overseas tax havens. They appear to deprive developing countries of more than NZ$150 million every year—money that is urgently needed to meet the health needs of people in these countries—while vastly overcharging for their products. It is estimated that New Zealand loses NZ$21 million every year.
Inequality is rampant across the global economy, and the agro-food sector is no exception. At the top, big supermarkets and other corporate food giants dominate global food markets, allowing them to squeeze value from vast supply chains that span the globe, while at the bottom the bargaining power of small-scale farmers and workers has been steadily eroded in many of the countries from which they source.
Last year saw the biggest increase in billionaires in history, one more every two days. This huge increase could have ended global extreme poverty seven times over. 82% of all wealth created in the last year went to the top 1%, and nothing went to the bottom 50%.
Dangerous, poorly paid work for the many is supporting extreme wealth for the few. Women are in the worst work, and almost all the super-rich are men. Governments must create a more equal society by prioritizing ordinary workers and small-scale food producers instead of the rich and powerful.