Local leaders launch action plan to tackle global city inequality

22 Nov 16

Fifty mayors and local leaders have launched a plan of action to tackle the systemic inequality flourishing in cities globally.


The action plan was backed by an initiative to tackle rising inequality that stretches back to just after the financial crisis.

However, a more recent OECD report from October 2016 highlighted that the equality gap is higher in cities than elsewhere.

It found that the world’s cities are at risk of becoming “inequality traps”, with 9 out of 10 of those studied having higher levels of household income inequality than their respective national averages.

City leaders must therefore “be at the centre of this fight”, said OECD secretary general Angel Gurría.

“High levels of inequality strain the very fabric of our societies. It is more urgent than ever to take action,” he said.

The creation of an action plan was backed by an OECD inclusive growth initiative, set up in the wake of the financial crisis, to tackle rising inequalities.

Fifty mayors from a group championing inclusive growth launched the four-pronged plan yesterday. It hopes to combat rising inequality in cities through education, labour markets, housing and urban environments, and infrastructure and public services.

Signatories span almost every region of the world, from the US to New Zealand.

Accompanying the plan, the OECD published a report setting out what both national and local leaders can do to boost job creation, economic development and inclusion.

The report also found that the gap between areas that are getting ahead and those that are falling behind is growing, stunting inclusive national growth.

Places that were already leading in terms of education levels have pulled further ahead, with a similar trend being observed for the distribution of high skilled jobs in countries like Canada, France, Japan, Norway and the UK.

Even some cities that typically outperform other areas in their country may be losing ground to their peers in terms of international comparisons, the report found.

Southern European cities, such as Rome, Naples, Lisbon, Prague and Warsaw have poor outcomes compared with their northern and western European counterparts.

The report recommends improvements to vocational education and training (VET). National actors should design frameworks that allow local leaders to tailor training to labour markets and build capacities to make them more agile, it suggests.

Local leaders should also encourage VET trainers to keep in touch with local employers and industries and strive to boost employer engagement in apprenticeships. Also, the report encouraged leaders to meet the needs of the local labour market at the same time as using VET to move the local economy toward more high-skilled and value-added products and services. 

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