This exciting group is brought together by the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, a former trade union leader who leads a nation that at times has felt like a lonely voice in a world of rising inequality. Standing with him were leaders such as the President of Ethiopia – a woman president of one of the world’s poorest nations that has put 15 million more children, most of whom are girls, into school over the course of a decade.
The group includes some of the world’s largest economies like Spain – led by a president who says that “inequality is destroying our societies”. It includes countries as large as Indonesia – with a population of over a quarter a billion people. I am particularly pleased to see African leaders such as Sierra Leone and Namibia showing such leadership.
Sure enough, none of these governments is taking perfect action. Each can and should do far more. I personally am committed to pushing them to do so, and they should push each other, too. But in coming together – as I’m sure each leader knows – these leaders achieve a few things.
For years we’ve been told that such inequality is the byproduct of an otherwise spectacularly successful economic system. That, sure, the system comes with some poverty, but all that GDP growth is great for all of us in the end. That reducing workers’ rights or tax cuts for the corporations will somehow benefit us all.
Second, such a group of leaders not only brings hope of a better world, it brings certainty that it can be achieved. I think of someone like President Moon of South Korea – a country which signs up as part of the group of progressive leaders – a human rights lawyer and son of refugees from the north. He has set out to build a people-centered economy – and has acted on it by boldly increasing the minimum wage, taxing the richest more and boosting social spending.
A new question must then be answered. If countries from Namibia to South Korea can take simple, effective and common-sense steps for the dignity of their citizens, then why can’t every government do so? And why are so many governments instead choosing to favour the rich over the rest?
I remain excited that the world can soon close the chapter on the brutally unequal kind of economy that has dominated most of this past half century. It will be a struggle, of politics and of power, of a few wealthy interests versus the rest of us, to get there.
But I hope that a new group of government champions emerges from this week that – together with activists, movements, thought leaders and ordinary people – can show that another way is possible. And that it is well within our reach.
This content was originally published here.