Download the overview fact sheet of the Inequality Challenge

Inequality Challenge – Innovative Solutions to a Global Issue

Despite significant progress in poverty reduction in the past decades, inequality within countries has risen. Today, 75 percent of the population in the Global South live in countries in which inequality has increased since the 1990s. Even where inequality has been successfully reduced, it remains on a considerably high level. This global trend threatens sustainable development in all its dimensions and the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The heads of states that passed the 2030 Agenda were aware of the negative impacts of high and rising inequality, and included the topic as a cross-cutting issue which permeates at least 12 if not all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To highlight the importance of reducing inequality even further, a stand-alone goal – SDG 10: Reducing Inequalities – was included in the 2030 Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda’s principle of ‘leave no one behind’ (LNOB) shines the spotlight on those who have not yet benefited from poverty reduction of the past. LNOB therefore combines ending poverty in all its forms (SDG 1) with reducing inequalities (SDG 10), as it puts emphasis on the poorest and most vulnerable people and groups. The poorest face a variety of barriers to fully participating in social, political, cultural and economic life. They have limited access to health care, education and basic services, and are often stigmatised and discriminated against. This combination – also referred to as intersecting inequalities – creates particularly high barriers that prevent the poorest from escaping poverty.

The explicit focus of the 2030 Agenda on LNOB and reducing inequality creates new challenges. How can international cooperation contribute to reducing inequality and at the same time targeting the overarching principle of ‘leave no one behind’? Which policies and strategies promise the highest leverage?

Against this backdrop, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) initiated the Inequality Challenge – Innovative Solutions to a Global Issue. The Inequality Challenge is a fund that supports innovative approaches, methods and tools that focus on reducing inequality and on the poorest and most marginalised people and groups in particular.


Inequality Challenge - Innovative Solutions to a Global Issue

The Inequality Challenge in a nutshell

Starting with a call for applications in March, the Inequality Challenge supports projects in partner countries of German development cooperation that tackle inequality and LNOB in innovative ways with up to 100,000 EUR per proposal.

A steering committee decided on the best, innovative ideas and after a kick-off workshop in Berlin on 14-15 June, the projects started with a maximum duration of up to 15 months.

Ultimately, the objective of the Inequality Challenge is to integrate and upscale innovative approaches for the reduction of inequality and the LNOB principle of the 2030 Agenda, while at the same time strengthening the mainstreaming of these subjects in German development cooperation.

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is the fund’s central decision-making body and decided on the best ideas. It consists of three members: representatives from BMZ, an innovation lab and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

Kick-off workshop

The kick-off workshop took place in Berlin, Germany, on 14-15 June.

Its goal was to further enhance the innovation potential of the ideas by using design thinking methods. Moreover, it provided an excellent opportunity for the selected applicants to network, exchange ideas and learn from one another.