Photo exhibition highlights varied and vibrant informal economies

Photos exhibited at a recent conference on informal economies and green growth show people working in the informal sector in eight countries.

Matt Wright's picture
Blog by
18 March 2016

Matt Wright is IIED's web content and planning manager

The exhibition illustrated the energy and innovation that informal economies can bring to the sustainable development agenda.

The photos were on show at a one-day conference in London on 25 February. The event, titled The biggest 'private sector': What place for the informal economy in green and inclusive growth, brought together 120 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from around the world.

The event and the exhibition were hosted by IIED and the Green Economy Coalition, WIEGO, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the OECD's Sahel and West Africa Club.

Informal economies, characterised by economic activity that is not subject to government regulation or taxation, sustain many people across the globe. In emerging markets informal economies employ up to 80 per cent of the workforce. In many countries the informal sector is expanding – but policymakers often ignore it. 

IIED's Shaping Sustainable Markets (SSM) initiative is providing a platform for discussion on inclusive and green market governance mechanisms for the informal economy. The London conference focused on how best to integrate the informal economy in plans for inclusive green growth. Delegates identified key principles that could help to develop a new policy agenda on informality and green growth.

The photo exhibition provided a vivid illustration of the varied ways in which people earn their livelihoods through informal economic activity. The photos also illustrated how people in the informal sector, from Colombia to India, are beginning to organise to protect their rights and grow their businesses.

Gallery: highlights from the informality photo exhibition

The gallery below shows a selection of images from the exhibition.  Click on the image below to begin the slideshow and use the arrows at the bottom left to move through the images.

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