Inclusive growth, poverty reduction and employment seminar held in Tehran
More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, and income growth is non-existent for many.
In line with this, and in an effort to try to narrow this gap between the rich and the poor in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a two-day event on inclusive growth was jointly organized by UNDP in collaboration with Labour and Social Security Institute (LSSI) in Tehran under the theme “Inclusive growth, poverty reduction and employment.”
Mr. Balasubramaniam Murali, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative was among the speakers at the first day of the event stating: “The main principles and criteria that underline inclusive growth concept are some of the issues that are of great priority for Iran today and possibly can address some of the very fundamental economic challenges that this country is facing.” He then made a presentation – for comparison – on India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) which was first implemented in India’s 200 poorest districts and now covers all rural districts in India. NREGA provides 100 days of guaranteed employment to one member of every rural household.
On the second day, the seminar welcomed the Minister of Cooperatives, Labour, and Social Welfare, Dr. Ali Rabiee – the Head of the Labour and Social Security Institute, Dr. Mohammad Reza Sepehri – and the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis.
In addressing the gathering, Dr. Sepehri said: “Inclusive growth and poverty reduction should focus on people from all walks of life and social classes rather than focusing and helping a specific group and leaving the rest out of the justice framework. Thus, policies should be better designed to bring about more inclusive growth, ensuring that the benefits of increased prosperity are shared more evenly around society.”
Dr. Rabiee spoke of a need for public discourse on poverty reduction: “I believe that a public discourse will enable us to raise awareness alongside allowing us to work together to overcome poverty. It is our right to reach development and growth all throughout our society which in turn will lead to a better future for our children.”
Mr. Lewis then shared with the audience the perspective that Iran’s human development during the period of 1980-2012: “…placed Iran in the “high human development” category among nations”. He added: “In the current climate, and despite the impact of sanctions, Iran’s future growth and development prospects can be strong.” Nontheless, “…in order to realize their full potential, we need to pay attention to the way that growth is achieved. We need to ensure that people are included in this growth – and that this growth is environmentally sustainable.”
Drawing attention to UNDP’s “Social Mobilisation and Micro-Credit” model (which won the best prize in the 2005 Global Poverty Reduction conference in China), Mr. Lewis said that this model is used in most UNDP projects currently underway in Iran. He noted that it did three things: help empower individuals to become change agents for their own development; encourage people – average citizens – to think, plan and implement business plans on their own; and, strongly leads to local inclusive growth outcomes.
At the seminar it was concluded that Iran should adopt inclusive growth approaches and complementary social protection mechanisms into the nation’s national planning framework.