Accessibility, the key to reducing poverty

Nearly 80 percent of the population does not receive the benefit of social guarantees that allow them to cope with life’s risks. This includes access to social protection, decent jobs and income, food security, education and meeting the needs of the elderly and peoples with disabilities. It is vital to invest in basic health, nutrition and education to ensure productive populations and to remove poverty roadblocks to help meet Millennium Development Goal One, to end poverty.

The 49th Session on Social Development, focusing on the theme of poverty eradication, concluded today at the United Nations Headquarters in New York after ten days in session. It discussed the emerging topic of social protection, including current and future issues, progress reports and how Member States can help mitigate the problem.

Michael Cichon, Director of the International Labour Organization’s Social Security Department, noted the importance of political will and cooperation among Governments and stated, “there is an emerging development paradigm that, without investing in basic social protection, there can be no growth.”

Cichon also stressed the importance of the human right to social security and the need for the United Nations Social Protection Floor initiative. The initiative aims to ensure the availability access to essential services by ensuring the ability to provide a minimum income and livelihood security for poor and vulnerable populations.

H.E. Dr. A K Abdul Momen, Ambassador and representative of the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, conferred, stating “the question of decent work may not be properly addressed when there exists huge unemployment that is further exacerbated by multiple global crises.”

He further discussed the impacts the global financial crisis on the advancement of the first MDG stating that “the looming world food crisis, increasing energy and food prices is threatening to diminish the achievements that we have made since the adopting of the Millennium Declaration.”

Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, United Nations Independent Expert on Human Rights and Extreme Poverty, discussed the need for Governments to maintain expenditures for vital social protection services during times of crisis, especially for the elderly. Nepal’s social protection program for the elderly, for example, has managed to keep the elderly out of extreme poverty.

The ageing population could reach 1.6 billion in the developing world by 2050. Social protection measures need to be taken to shield individuals and their families from the most severe economic shocks emanating from a financial crisis. Member States hope to exchange best practices, in addition to create new approaches to reach the 900 million who will face extreme poverty in 2015.

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