While the SDGs are strong on their commitment of reducing economic inequality (SDG 10), inequality is not only experienced in economic terms. Rather, it is also about inequality of voice, as recognised in the commitment of Goal 16 to ‘inclusive societies and institutions’, and particularly target 16.7 ‘to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels.’ A critical question is how Goal 16 can be applied not only to political and social institutions, but to decision making within the economic sphere as well. Drawing on work funded by the Open Society Foundations on bringing participation into economic decision making, this paper shares research by a team from the Institute of Development Studies on this question. In particular, we focus on participation in three areas:
1. Alternative forms of economic management that enable workers, consumers, communities, farmers, for example, to have a voice.
2. Citizen voice in government economic policymaking
3. Grassroots economic alternatives through the social and solidarity economy where people claim ownership over economic processes that affect their lives
The overall aim is to shed light on what constitutes meaningful participation in these areas and how it can be enabled, and to learn from existing experiences in order to frame future interventions.