Climate and inequality highlighted as biggest global challenges

Published on 14 August 2019

As IDS begins to develop its upcoming five-year strategy (2020-25), reflecting on recent years and our current strategy, and thinking about where global development is headed. We have been asking others on Twitter what they think are the critical global challenges of our time, and what is needed to tackle them? Unsurprisingly climate and inequality were consistently mentioned by those who participated in the #GlobalDevTrends conversation, and it’s a conversation we hope to continue over the coming months.

Tweet inviting people to share their thoughts and ideas

Global challenges and a politics of hope

IDS Director, Professor Melissa Leach, kicked off the discussion with her thoughts on some of the big global challenges, around climate change and environmental problems, along with rising forms of inequality, intersecting exclusions around gender, ethnicity, race, religion as well as economy. She also highlighted migration, displacement, pandemics and threats linked to digital disruption, as challenges affecting people’s lives.

But, as Professor Leach said, “this is not just a doom and gloom story”, across the world we are seeing actions by citizens, social movements, businesses and some governments, that inspire and shed light on some progressive alternatives that could drive us forward.

She also spoke of the need for interdisciplinary research that seeks to fully understand, and bring to the fore, people’s lived experiences as well as the systems and political economic structures driving many of these challenges.

Video tweet of Melissa Leach on global challenges (click on image to view)

Watch video on YouTube

Policy makers, researchers, practitioners and activists share critical global challenges

Wordcloud from #GlobalDevTrends tweets (not including @IDS_UK tweets)

Climate change, sustainability and inequality came up consistently. Some other challenges mentioned were human rights, hunger and malnutrition, economy, housing, taxation, employment, education and gender equity.

MP for Brighton and Hove and co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, said the greatest challenge the world faces is the accelerating climate emergency, and a transformation of the global economy in needed:

Video tweet from Caroline Lucas MP (click on image to view)

Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development (DfID), shared a video about how UK Aid is helping to tackle poverty by building climate resilience:

Tweet from Matthew Rycroft (click on image to view)

Researcher Martin Hearson, from the International Centre for Tax and Development (ICTD), talked about how the growth of multinational tech companies is changing the global economy, and developing countries need a seat at the table in discussing effective taxation policies:

Tweet video of Martin Hearson (click on image to view)

Abdiweli Mohamed, Education Specialist at UNICEF Somalia, highlighted the growing trend of out of school children in developing countries:

Tweet from Abdiweli Mohamed (click on image to view)

Jayne Whyte, Founder of SmartHER Nigeria, raised malnutrition as a critical global challenge:

Tweet from Jayne Whyte (click on image to view)

These are just a few of the tweets, and the conversation continues. We want to encourage more people to join the discussion and share their ideas and approaches towards a more sustainable, equitable world. As Professor Leach said, “these are challenges that affect everybody everywhere, and we need the knowledge, the theories, the practices, the experiences and the ideas, from people and organisations all over the world”.

Join in the discussion #GlobalDevTrends


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