Although the UN General Assembly meetings began with bitter political sparring between countries such as the United States and China, many world leaders are taking this opportunity to sound the alarm on the untold suffering the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and the looming crisis coming from climate change.

Africa, for instance, is set to enter its first recession in 25 years and multilateral organizations are scrambling to support economic recovery. A UN study estimates that 45 million people in Latin America might fall into poverty, and in Asia the number might reach 160 million. The latest Goalkeepers Report published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation summarized the crisis succinctly, noting that the world has “been set back about 25 years in about 25 weeks.” As world leaders look to rebuild a fairer world, it’s important to ask two questions: how did we get here, and how can we rebuild better?

Over the past four decades the world has made some progress as more than one billion people have escaped extreme poverty (living on less than $2 a day). While this is cause for celebration, it’s important to note that around half the world’s population still lives on less than $5.50 a day, leaving them dangerously close to sliding back into it. Most people who live on less than $5.50 a day don’t have access to decent housing, good jobs with benefits, or a social safety net in case a catastrophic event happens. Unfortunately, in 2020 that catastrophic event did happen.

In our research we’ve discovered that the critical missing link in the economic development discourse is innovation, and more specifically, market-creating innovations. These innovations offer a powerful and sustainable solution to development by transforming complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones so many more people in society can access them. Because they address problems people desperately need solved, consumers have a vested interest in ensuring the markets endure.

Read the full article about building a more equitable world by Efosa Ojomo at Christensen Institute.