As global leaders examine progress in reducing poverty, the time is right to explore if and how livelihoods have improved. What factors determine livelihoods? Which issues will most affect them by 2030? And how can global living standards be sustained?
Livelihoods are constantly at risk. Local and global crises, demographic shifts, climate change, new technologies, and other challenges impact livelihoods in many ways.These challenges vary dramatically across countries and communities.
The recent financial crisis, for example, triggered more inequality and unemployment. Youth, in particular, struggle to find jobs. Paradoxically, many firms face skill shortages. Major changes are therefore required throughout education systems, from kindergarten to college to workforce training. These changes are crucial to secure livelihoods.
Demographic shifts due to medical progress and fertility-rate fluctuations also pose significant challenges. In some countries, pensions need to be rethought as populations age. Elsewhere, rapidly growing youth populations outpace job creation, contributing to inequality and instability. Meanwhile, health insurance programs are weak or non-existent in low-income countries.
Climate change also increasingly affects livelihoods. Extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, occur more often. Longer term, biodiversity loss may significantly reduce economic growth and deeply transform our living conditions. But climate change brings both livelihood threats and opportunities. Many sectors are joining forces to build sustainable economies and climate resilient infrastructure.
To face such challenges, technology offers solutions. Technology already helps prevent damage from natural disasters and improve health outcomes. Still, whether technology will create or destroy jobs remains unclear, and the debate over whether innovation is slowing down or speeding up continues.
Confronting the challenges of and imagining opportunities for livelihoods is a massive undertaking. These questions will be explored by global leaders from many sectors, brought together by The Rockefeller Foundation, the OECD Development Centre, and the Economist Intelligence Unit at the Foundation’s Bellagio Center in August 2014.
This event is funded and hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation, and is organized with the participation of the Economist Intelligence Unit