Social inclusion central to 2030 Agenda, UN Social Development Commission hears as new session opens

To reap a demographic dividend, countries must empower, educate and employ their young people. Photo: PANDI/UNFPA Colombia

4 February 2016 – The adoption of the 2030 Agenda – which places people and the planet at the centre of global development – presents new challenges and opportunity for the United Nations Commission on Social Development, a senior UN official said today, opening the body's 54th annual session with a call for building on its strengths to foster an integrated approach when addressing social policies.

“You can enhance your work in promoting progress in social development in the context of the new Agenda. You can integrate your work related to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities, youth, older persons and families, into ensuring that no one is left behind,” said Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

While “enormous” gains were made since the World Summit for Social Development had resulted in the Copenhagen Declaration in 1995, progress remained uneven — both within and among countries — with millions of people still excluded from access to the very rights, services and income-generating activities that underpinned a sustainable future for all.

As such, the Commission's work is indeed vital to implementation of the new 2030 Agenda. Further, it is critical in providing a platform for Member States to deliberate social policies, share experiences, raise awareness and mobilize action. While more than one billion people since 1995 had been helped out of extreme poverty and the proportion of undernourished people in developing regions was down by almost half, progress had been uneven.

The Commission's session, which runs through 12 February, will conclude the 46-member body's 2015-2016 review and policy cycle under the priority theme “Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World.”

As the first session held after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it is marked by a new overall context, with discussion focused on the role of social policy in achieving people-centred, inclusive sustainable development for all.

“We need to create over 600 million new jobs by 2030,” he said, or 40 million annually to keep pace with growth in the working age population. Conditions for the 780 million working poor must be improved and rising inequality addressed,” Mr. Montiel said, noting that a lack of equal opportunity for women, youth, those with disabilities, the elderly and indigenous communities meant they could not realize their potential.

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