Equitable Development

The path of development amplifies inequality

Development depends on resources, both natural and human, to power social and economic progress. But the rules of the game—especially those concerning community revitalization and the control and use of land and other natural resources—too often magnify economic, social, and political inequality. Ensuring that future generations can live in just, prosperous communities and benefit from a sustainable environment will require a collective commitment to confronting inequality.

In development, progress can be a two-sided coin. Urbanization, for example, is often associated with economic growth, expanded political participation, and greater cultural tolerance. But the tensions that come with rapid urbanization and uneven development make it difficult to ensure access to opportunity and a decent standard of living for all. The shortage of safe, healthy, and affordable housing creates crushing burdens and instability for workers and families. Segregation inhibits opportunity, concentrates poverty and distress, and undermines a politics of shared interests, rooted in the common good.

Meanwhile, natural resource wealth should generate broad benefits, but it is often linked to serious threats, including large-scale deforestation, the displacement of poor communities, the flow of illicit money across borders, corruption, and climate change. The lands and heritage of indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable. And reversing this “resource curse” is a major challenge, especially in developing countries.

Accelerating equitable development

Amid these challenges, we believe that empowered communities can harness urban development and natural resources to generate shared long-term prosperity, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and reduce the disparities that stand in the way of meeting people’s basic needs. Around the world, citizens, consumers, government leaders, and businesses are learning how to plan for and implement more equitable and sustainable approaches to the development of communities, land, and resources.

Our efforts to promote equitable development are focused on urbanization and land markets, equitable access to infrastructure and services, natural resource governance, and the links between equity and environmental sustainability. We are especially concerned with improving the opportunities of people who have historically been harmed or marginalized by urbanization or rural transformation, often because of their race, ethnicity, gender, or class.

Our work

Our efforts are organized through two lines of work, with a cross-cutting emphasis on land rights, use, and development.

Through our commitment to building institutions and networks, we make long-term investments in organizations that are pivotal to fighting inequality and making meaningful progress in this area.

  • Just Cities and Regions

  • Natural Resources and Climate Change

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