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The SEEP Network 
Annual Conference

October 2-4, 2017 Arlington, Virginia - USA

Plenary Sessions


Plenary Sessions

The Inequality Debate: Inclusive Development in the Context of Growing Income Disparities

Intelligent Failure: Building an Organizational Culture Where Learning and Innovation Thrive


The Inequality Debate:
Inclusive Development in the Context of Growing Income Disparities

Tuesday, September 20 | 9:15 am - 10:30 am

Growing economic inequality has emerged as a looming challenge in our time. International economic and development institutions, from the IMF to the Ford Foundation, have begun to prioritize inequality as a target for attention, analysis and action. In 2014, the World Economic Forum ranked “widening income disparities” as the second most important risk trend facing the world. The WEF report argued “It’s impacting social stability within countries and threatening security on a global scale ... it is essential that we devise innovative solutions to the causes and consequences of a world becoming ever more unequal.”

Analysis from Oxfam shows how extreme global inequality is: in 2010, a mere 388 people owned as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity, 3.5 billion people. As alarming as this concentration of wealth is, the divide between top and bottom is growing rapidly. By 2015, the number of super-billionaires required to equal the wealth of bottom half of the world was only 62 people. The top 1% own as much wealth as everyone else – 99% percent of humanity. These global trends often are reflected at the country level.

It is widely believed that the precursor to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) – the millennium development goals – succeeded in cutting global poverty in half, but that claim has been disputed. Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics has argued that “the numbers have been furtively manipulated to make it seem as though our economic system is working for the majority of humanity when in fact it is not.” And that system, built for the few, could threaten all the targets set out in the SDGs.

Do these trends merit more attention from development practitioners? Does growing inequality threaten our ability to obtain sustainable poverty reduction? What are the implications for our efforts to promote more inclusive markets? Can an economic system that creates disproportionate wealth for the few still be considered inclusive?

The opening plenary of the 2016 SEEP Conference presented trends in income inequality across the globe, explore their implications for the work of SEEP members to create new and better opportunities for the poor, and discuss strategies – including Oxfam’s – to address income inequality through both advocacy and economic development approaches.

Gawain Kripke Christopher Musoke Ted Volchok Nurul Amin Siddique
Gawain Kripke Musoke Ted Volchok  Nurul Amin


Intelligent Failure
Building an Organizational Culture Where Learning and Innovation Thrive

Wednesday, September 21 | 9:15 am - 10:30 am 

The status quo is built on talking about success, so when we openly acknowledge our failures we put ourselves at risk of being blamed and punished, but this intolerance of failure drives our learning underground. In order to make learning and adapting possible, we need to build a safe space to discuss failures openly and maximize the learning we gain from them. Without such a commitment our impact will be limited.

After all, it is rare for new ideas and insights to turn into successful programs on the first try. Even tested approaches don't always go as planned. Failure happens. The question is: How do we fail intelligently? How do we create space for innovation, build resilience, and harness the productive potential of our failures?

In this interactive plenary discussion, participants explored what intelligent failure means in their context, participated in hands-on activities, engaged and learned with peers to discover easy ways to apply intelligent failure practices that align with organizational needs.                                                                             

Ashley Good James Haga
Ashley Good James Haga


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