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The Inclusion Imperative

In developing the post-2015 development agenda, world leaders must recognize that the progress that has been made in recent years has been uneven. In fact, the same groups – such as indigenous peoples, religious or sexual minorities, and the disabled – have consistently been excluded from progress and prosperity.

WASHINGTON, DC – Great advances have been made toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since they were initiated in 2000. But, unfortunately, many countries still remain far from achieving them, and, even in countries that have made substantial progress, some groups – including indigenous peoples, residents of slums or remote areas, religious or other minorities, and people with disabilities – are consistently left out. As a recent World Bank report emphasizes, understanding the causes of exclusion is critical to ensuring that future development efforts are more effective and inclusive.

Social and economic exclusion is not only a moral problem; it is also extremely costly. A 2010 World Bank report on the exclusion of the Roma from educational and economic systems in Europe estimated annual productivity losses of at least $172 million in Serbia, $273 million in the Czech Republic, and $660 million in Romania (using April 2010 exchange rates).

These losses reflect the far-reaching consequences of exclusion. The World Health Organization and the World Bank found that children with disabilities are less likely to enter school than their non-disabled peers – and that they also stay in school at lower rates. In Indonesia, there is a 60% discrepancy between the share of disabled and non-disabled children attending primary school and a 58% discrepancy for secondary school. The resulting feelings of exclusion and alienation can undermine social cohesion and even lead to unrest and conflict.

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