• Blog
  • 16 July 2018

The P20 and progress on the commitment to leave no one behind at country level

Tony German explains how a focus on the poorest 20%, the P20, can help ensure that development and growth are inclusive - leaving no one behind.

Written by Tony German


How can a focus on the poorest 20% of people – whether that’s the poorest 20% in Benin, Switzerland or worldwide – help to ensure that development is inclusive? Why is it important?

Tomorrow, as part of the High-Level Political Forum, DI will co-host a side-event on the commitment to ‘Leave No One Behind’ with the governments of Switzerland and Benin. This session will be an opportunity to share initial reflections, challenges, experiences and ideas around our P20 approach. When Benin and Switzerland signed up to Agenda 2030 almost three years ago, they signed up to a new approach that recognised shared challenges, shared responsibilities and shared opportunities.

The essential focus of Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 10 is ending poverty in all its forms everywhere, reaching those people furthest behind first, and reducing inequalities within and between countries. These are universal challenges. They require complex, hard-edged and evidence-based political choices to deliver opportunity, services and quality of life for those who are left behind.

By focusing attention on the poorest 20% of people, wherever they are, the P20 approach responds to this universality. And to support the complex political choices that must be made, it emphasises the use of a small number of bellwether indicators to track progress.

Poor nutrition, in some places, leads to stunting and wasting, in others it leads to obesity and diabetes. It is clear that nutrition is a common challenge, even if its human cost presents in different ways. The P20 encourages countries, donor agencies, civil society organisations and companies to choose indicators in line with their own priorities; it’s crucial that these be regularly monitored to deliver the kind of top-line trends that show the public and politicians what progress is being made, especially among the poorest people.

While countries have widely different levels of development and prosperity, every country acknowledges poverty and inequality within its borders. The P20 approach can be applied both globally and in every country to reflect this. By focusing on the poorest 20%, we are putting a spotlight on the poorest and most vulnerable people; this includes everyone currently in, or vulnerable to, absolute poverty, plus those who by reasons of their identity (age, disability, belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation) are most vulnerable to poverty or exclusion.

In every country there is unequal access in sectors including health, education and employment. Most governments accept that high levels of inequality reduce social cohesion and participation – and involve real economic cost. The P20 approach is one that can help with understanding and eradicating inequality in a variety of contexts.

Two very different countries, Switzerland and Benin, are working with Development Initiatives and employing the P20 model to see if they have the data to identify the people who are left behind – and the strategies and resources that will be needed to include them in progress. We cannot expect the data on issues such as financial inclusion and CO2 emissions in countries as different as Benin and Switzerland to be easily comparable, but we can expect both countries to put comparable energy and commitment into delivering on their global and national obligations under Agenda 2030.

By focusing on the poorest 20% of people, the P20 approach puts a spotlight on those people most often left behind and excluded. It provides a way to regularly measure key bellwethers of progress on how Agenda 2030 is being delivered.

To find out more about how Switzerland and Benin are applying the P20 approach, join us tomorrow at the Japan Society for our HLPF side-event. Alternatively, you can find out more about how the P20 is doing in your country here.