o you prefer to hear good news or bad
news rst? I will begin by giving you the
(unsurprisingly) bad news. Today’s world is
an unequal place. Sta ndards of living vary
massively both between a nd within countries. To
narrow it down to its most blunt statistic, if you were
born in Hong Kong Special Admin istrative Region,
your life expecta ncy is nearly double that of someone
born in Swaziland, 84 a nd 49 years, respectively.
e good news is that in recent dec ades many
global indicators of living st andards have improved.
e United Nations’ Millennium Development
Goals, a group of target s aimed at reducing poverty
and raising livi ng standards, were la rgely suc-
cessful. ose living in extreme povert y dropped
from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 836 million in 2015,
the proportion of undernourished people i n low-
income countries fell from 23 percent in 1990 to
13 percent in 2014, and worldwide primary school
enrollment has reached 90 percent. es e statistics
oer hope for a trajectory toward an equa l world.
ere is more bad news, however, in that climate
change threaten s to undo this progress and create
fu rth er in equi ty.
How can we address inequality in the twenty-ﬁrst century? Start with climate change.
December 2019 | FINANCE & DEVELOPMENT 39
ART: ISTOC K/ SI GAL