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Reference Document on Inequalities – the new tool to address inequality in development cooperation



The Reference Document “Addressing income inequalities through development cooperation” was published. It is the 29th reference document in the EuropeAid Tools and Methods Series. The collection includes three sub-collections.

Today, the levels of inequality in many partner countries are higher than they were sixteen years ago.  High levels of inequality are a threat to sustainable development. Inequalities are a major brake on economic growth and poverty reduction, as well as a threat to many other aspects of sustainable development, such as social cohesion and resilience, respect for the rule of law, conflict prevention, and environmental protection. Fighting inequalities is therefore among the top priorities of the Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA).


The objective of this reference document is to support the ongoing effort of the European Union (EU) to strengthen its approach to development cooperation to address inequalities in its partner countries. While recognizing the importance of all forms of inequality, the document focusses primarily on income inequality, effective policy responses and how to address inequality in development cooperation.

The Reference Document is structured in three complementary volumes, each dedicated to a specific part of the work.

  • Volume 1 presents the theoretical background to understanding inequality, including its trends;
  • Volume 2 presents 18 briefs on policies with a demonstrated impact on inequalities;
  • Volume 3 presents guidelines and tools to help EU staff mainstream reduction of inequality into all their development cooperation operations.

This document not only shows the commitment of the EU to tackle inequalities, but also the cooperative relationship with different actors involved in development and cooperation that support our goal and our approach. Therefore, we would like to express our appreciation to those who contributed to the preparation of the 29th Tool and Methods Series: the consultant team of Mario Negre, Veronica White and Christian Morabito, and the Adelante Knowledge and Development team with Jérôme Dendura, Teresa Cavero, Karolyn Thunnissen and Geraldo Carreiro. In addition, we would also like to thank the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – in particular Anda David and Felipe Korreales – who contributed to developing the Research Facility on Inequalities. This aims to enhance the knowledge and understanding of economic and social inequalities, their drivers and underlying factors, as well as the most effective policies and approaches to address and reduce them.

From DG INTPA’s side, our colleagues Françoise Millecam, Alessandro Batazzi, Beata Plonka and Mathilde Cournut provided guidance and edited the Reference Document.  

You can find the reference document ‘Addressing income inequalities through development cooperation guidelines’ under the links below :

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last update
5 October 2021

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