The Equitable Distribution of Resources: A Key Pillar of Positive Peace
The significance of Equitable Distribution of Resources, one of the 8 Pillars of Positive Peace defined by the Institute of Economics and Peace, and its importance in fostering a peaceful society.
Global Security Analyst
Photo source: Vision for Humanity
When we think of peace, we often picture a world devoid of conflict or violence. However, the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) envisions it much more broadly, defining peace not just by the absence of violence or fear (negative peace), but also by the presence of structures and systems that create and sustain peaceful societies (positive peace). This more holistic concept of peace is organized around the "8 Pillars of Positive Peace", one of which is the "Equitable Distribution of Resources".
What is the Equitable Distribution of Resources?
The Equitable Distribution of Resources refers to the fair allocation of resources such as wealth, healthcare, education, and opportunities across all segments of society, irrespective of gender, race, social status, or any other differentiating factor. This is not to be confused with equal distribution, which means everyone gets the same amount. Instead, it’s about fairness, ensuring everyone can access the resources they need to thrive.
Why is it Important?
A society marked by gross inequality can lead to social tension, resentment, and conflict. Conversely, when resources are distributed equitably, it leads to a reduction in grievances among marginalized groups, promotes social cohesion, and fosters a sense of justice and fairness. This helps build a society that is more stable, harmonious, and ultimately peaceful.
Photo source: Our World In Data
How it is measured within the scope of IEP’s Positive Peace Index
Structures: Inequality-adjusted life expectancy index. Measures the overall life expectancy of a population accounting for the disparity between the average
life expectancy of the rich and that of the poor. The smaller the difference the higher the equality and that is a reflection of the equality of access to the health system. (Source: United Nations Development Programme)
Institutions: Access to Public Services. Measures the discrepancies in access to public services distributed by socio-economic position. (Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem)
Attitudes: Equality of Opportunity. Assesses whether individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation. (Freedom House)
Other Indicators to Consider
Measuring Equitable Distribution of Resources can involve various quantitative and qualitative elements. Other indicators that researchers could possibly look into would include:
Income Inequality: This can be measured using tools such as the Gini coefficient, which quantifies the dispersion of income within a population.
Access to Basic Services: This assesses whether individuals across the society have equal access to vital services like healthcare, education, and clean water.
Wealth Distribution: This goes beyond income to consider assets and debts, providing a fuller picture of economic inequality.
Social Mobility: This examines the ability of an individual or family to move up or down the social and economic ladder within a society.
Gender and Minority Inequality: This considers disparities in resource access between different genders and minority groups.
Equitable Distribution of Resources and the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Equitable distribution of resources is intrinsically linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each of the 17 SDGs addresses various aspects of human development, including poverty, education, health, and environmental sustainability, all of which are directly influenced by resource distribution. Let's look at some examples:
SDG 1: No Poverty: Equitable distribution of resources directly supports this goal by ensuring that wealth and opportunities are spread across society, reducing extreme poverty and raising the overall standard of living.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger: By ensuring fair access to agricultural resources, technology, and markets, more people can secure their food needs and contribute to their economies, thereby mitigating hunger and promoting sustainable agriculture.
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being: Equitable distribution of resources is critical to ensure everyone, regardless of their economic status or geographical location, has access to quality healthcare services, necessary for maintaining health and well-being.
SDG 4: Quality Education: Education is a powerful resource that, when equitably distributed, can drive social mobility, reduce poverty, and contribute to social stability and peace. Achieving this goal necessitates making quality education accessible and affordable to all.
SDG 5: Gender Equality: Equitable distribution of resources also means gender equality in resource allocation. Achieving gender equality requires that resources such as education, economic opportunities, and political representation are equally accessible to all genders.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities: This goal explicitly calls for the equitable distribution of resources, both within and among countries. It aims to reduce income inequality, promote social, economic and political inclusion, and ensure equal opportunities.
SDG 13: Climate Action: Climate change disproportionately affects marginalized communities. Ensuring equitable distribution of resources like sustainable technology and climate funding can help these communities adapt to climate change and participate in climate mitigation actions.
Equitable distribution of resources doesn't only relate to economic resources; it also includes access to justice, technology, political power, and other types of resources. By addressing these disparities, we can create societies that are more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive, thus aligning with the spirit of the UN SDGs.