Statement by James Gustave Speth
            Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme
                    World Summit for Social Development
                          Copenhagen, Denmark

	As we gather to consider the ways to a better future for  citizens of 
all countries, we are caught on one word: Equity.

	Equity combines the ideas of justice and of equal opportunity, of 
people coming out of poverty to share in the world's bounty, of becoming 
integral members of society.

	There is little equity in today's world.

	At the NGO forum, the United Nations Development Programme has 
constructed a warning clock that is counting the number of people world-wide 
being born into the ranks of the poor.  On any given day, 68,000 newborn 
babies will join families living on less than $1 a day. Between now and the 
end of this conference, more than 425,000 additional people will begin their 
lives in a prison of poverty. It is our charge to open the doors of that 
prison. 	The income gap between the richest and poorest 20 percent of the 
world's people has not narrowed in the past 30 years. Rather, that gap has 
doubled. This widening gulf breeds despair and instability. It imperils our 

	Equity demands jobs for all; it demands an end to mass poverty in our 
rich world; it demands an end to social exclusion. "Equity" is for this 
summit what "sustainability" was for the Earth Summit: a mandate for all of 
us, and a guiding principle for the actions of our Governments.

	The defining concern of international affairs in the decades ahead 
will be the struggle for equity. Equity among nations. Equity within 
nations. Equity between the sexes. Equity through sustainable, human 

	As the Declaration's first Commitment recognizes, achieving equity 
requires an enabling environment: an environment that supports growth, gives 
priority to the poor and to jobs, and encourages participation, tolerance, 
and respect for human diversity and the rule of law.

	This enabling environment must promote justice and fundamental 
fairness among nations as well as within them. This means strong countries 
giving access to their markets to weaker countries. It means sharing modern 
technology. And it means financial support for development assistance and 
debt relief.

	Commitment 2 of the Summit Declaration rightly calls upon all 
countries to formulate strategies and set time-bound targets for the 
eradication of poverty. This commitment may be the most lasting 
accomplishment of this Summit. Now that we have the means to eliminate the 
worst aspects of world poverty, we have an ethical obligation to deploy 
those means.

	We all know  and deplore the rates of infant and maternal mortality, 
of children sick and uneducated, of women overworked and under-rewarded, of 
life-giving forests burned and soils eroded. Curing these ills requires 
labor-intensive work, work that could provide millions of new jobs. That 
link between poverty eradication and job creation, between Commitment 2 and 
Commitment 3 of the Declaration, must be made more explicit.

	One of the most formidable obstacles to equity is mobilizing the money 
to get the job done. One problem is that for many countries in Africa and 
elsewhere, there is a net outflow of cash in the form of debt service. 
Moreover, even today's modest infusions of support are threatened as aid 
budgets come under attack in many donor nations.

	We should remind all those aboard the budget-slashing bandwagon that 
the world's poor are not asking for charity. They are asking for opportunity 
and a fair deal.  They are asking for an investment in our common future.

	To help indebted countries, we should consider a programme that will 
enable countries to spend more of their budgets on sustainable human 
development, through National Partnership Facilities. We must help countries 
address both the problems of external debt relief and of finding new sources 
of development funding within existing national budgets. These new debt-and-
development partnerships can do that.

	UNDP can help countries with these debt initiatives. More generally, 
UNDP can help countries promote and build the enabling environment needed to 
realize the goals of this Summit. It can also help transform the goals of 
the Summit into reality through a capacity building initiative that can be 
described as an "empowerment package". Eradicating poverty requires that 
poor families find income-generating opportunities, sustainable livelihoods, 
and productive assets like skills, land, credit to help them set up their 
own businesses, and information to enable them to identify opportunities.   
This approach means advancing the role of women in development.   It means 
building  countries' capacities for anti-poverty strategies that will close 
the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It means establishing the 
machinery to ensure that the voice of the poor is heard in decision-making 
fora, as well as ensuring equal access to a system of justice. These are all 
aspects of sustainable human development. They will all be priorities in the 
UNDP programme in the follow-up to Copenhagen -- that is our commitment to 
the future.

	The success of this Summit will require the full partnership with the 
private sector and with civil society and non-governmental organizations. 
Indeed, none of the commitments to be entered into can succeed without 
unprecedented participation of civil society.

	Years ago, new courts of equity were created specifically to break 
with the laws and procedures that were tying society to an inequitable past. 
A wonderful thing was said in these new courts  - "equity loves to do 
justice, and not by halves". This Summit is the world's chance to break with 
an inequitable past, to do justice, and not by halves.

	There is no better place to begin than the Commitment against poverty. 
 One hundred and 50 years ago, the world launched a crusade against slavery. 
Today we must launch a world crusade against poverty.

	Thank you.

	The New Age of Equity

                       Administrator James Gustave Speth 		
                      United Nations Development Programme


 	Address to the World Summit for Social Development 

	Copenhagen 	6 March 1995 




The electronic version of this document was prepared at the World Summit for Social Development by the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with the United Nations Department for Public Information.This version has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 25/01/2000 14:36:31
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