Social protection, the solution to poverty

UN PHoto/John Isaac

Member states, civil society and other stakeholders met at the opening of the 49th Session of the Commission for Social Development at the United Nations Headquarters in New York today focusing on the priority theme of poverty eradication and the emerging issue of social protection.

The Commission will gather for the next ten days and also discuss the United Nations plans and programs pertaining to the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, World Programme of Action for Youth, Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing 2002, and family issue policies and programs. Addressing the needs of these vulnerable groups through policies can help reach the goal of poverty eradication.

Poverty eradication is a main priority of the Millennium Development Goals. Since the World Summit for Social Development, the United Nations has been working on halving the proportion of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. The income disparity between the rich and the poor is widening. Some countries are making progress in reducing poverty; however some of the most affected countries are not expected to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

The progress of poverty eradication is slowly declining and still remains a problem in many countries. “Much remains to be done, and the recent global crises have slowed progress previously made towards many social development goals,” said H.E. Lazarous Kapambwe, Permanent Representative of Zambia to the UN and President of the Economic and Social Council, in his opening statement, adding that “even if the global target is reached, nearly 900 million people will be living in poverty in 2015.”

Social protection was chosen as the emerging issue of this session by the Economic and Social Council. It affects the capabilities of individuals and families to manage and overcome any challenges of their well-being. Therefore, it is essential to reduce vulnerability and prevent the deterioration of living conditions.

Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stated, “Countries that have successfully reduced poverty and improved social conditions on a broad scale, are those that have developed comprehensive social and protection programmes.” He also encouraged member states to join efforts made by cooperatives to address poverty and unemployment through the creation of jobs and raising wages, and added that “they also serve as a catalyst for social organization and cohesion.”

Mr. Sha added at the end of the opening that “the crucial work you will be doing in the next ten days will also build momentum for Rio+20 and the forthcoming conference on the LDCs.”

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