“The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast,” Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima said.
The richest one percent’s share of global wealth increased from 44 percent in 2009 to 48 percent in 2014, the British charity said in a report, adding that it will be more that 50 percent in 2016.
The average wealth per adult in this group is $2.7 million (2.3 million euros), Oxfam said.
Of the remaining 52 percent, almost all — 46 percent — is owned by the rest of the richest fifth of the world’s population, leaving the other 80 percent to share just 5.5 percent with an average wealth of $3,851 (3,330 euros) per adult, the report says.
Byanyima, who is to co-chair at the Davos World Economic Forum taking place Wednesday through Friday, urged leaders to take on “vested interests that stand in the way of a fairer and more prosperous world.”
Oxfam called upon states to tackle tax evasion, improve public services, tax capital rather than labour, and introduce living minimum wages, among other measures, in a bid to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.
The 45th World Economic Forum that runs from Wednesday to Saturday will draw a record number of participants this year with more than 300 heads of state and government attending.
Rising inequality will be competing with other global crises including terrorist threats in Europe, the worst post-Cold War stand-off between Russia and the West and renewed fears of financial turmoil.
France’s Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel and China’s Li Keqiang will be among world leaders seeking to chart a path away from fundamentalism towards solidarity.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US Secretary of State John Kerry are also expected.
Beyond geopolitical crises, hot-button issues like the Ebola epidemic, the challenges posed by plunging oil prices and the future of technology will also be addressed at the posh Swiss ski resort.