Fostering economic opportunity is one of IDLO’s main goals. We believe that empowering the poor also means unlocking their potential for wealth creation. Sustainable development is illusory if the poor remain shut out of credit and markets; if their historic ownership rights and land management skills are disregarded; and if their traditional knowledge and crafts remain undervalued as human capital. In recent years, economic growth has been concentrated in developing nations. Emerging economies are claiming an increasing share of the global economy. But industrial and resource-intensive growth is finite. It also poses severe environmental challenges. Structural impediments in emerging economies, moreover, mean that the ‘middle-income trap’ is already a distinct risk. These impediments include unequal access to education, which causes nations’ skills base to plateau; low rates of women’s participation in the labor force, which shrinks the talent pool; and a lack of social inclusivity, which degrades livelihoods.
Among other crippling obstacles are insufficient legal capacity to negotiate trade terms and solve commercial disputes; a lack of incentives for climate-positive, energy-efficient development; poor service delivery; inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights, which stifles creativity; or, conversely, overzealous enforcement of these rights, which may deny the poor access to technological benefits and life-saving medicines.
For IDLO, to promote social rights and reduce discrimination is also to speak of economic efficiency and development. From this perspective, we are well-placed to offer rule-of-law solutions to many of today’s most pressing economic challenges.