Economies must be put at the service of people, through effective integrated social policies, the United Nations Secretary-General told the Commission for Social Development today, stressing that, in a world where inequality was still too high and too few economies had attained sustainable growth, the body’s policy guidance would be critical to global efforts to end poverty by 2030.
“Your work will be crucial for ensuring that the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals truly leave no one behind,” Ban Ki-moon said, as he opened week two of the Commission’s fifty-fourth session. Too many people continued to face exclusion and people were frustrated at “working harder” while “falling behind”.
For its part, he said the United Nations was ready to help States achieve goals and work closely with civil society to give life to a shared vision. He had recently submitted his report to the General Assembly on the milestones towards the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda, which, among other things, reflected on how the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development could instil coherence in the work of all intergovernmental platforms in the system and derive political guidance from their conclusions.
Throughout the day, representatives of Governments, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies alike offered prescriptions, in two separate debates, for creating more just, inclusive and equal societies. In the first, speakers concluded discussion of the priority theme, “rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”, outlining national efforts to create jobs, improve education and health-care systems and, more broadly, harmonize domestic laws with international standards. Several highlighted collaborations with United Nations agencies.
In that context, El Salvador’s representative said her Government used a multidimensional measurement of poverty that included well-being, education, employment, housing and basic services, allowing the Government to target geographic locations or populations affected by more extreme poverty. Mongolia’s delegate noted that his Government had opened youth development centres in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), providing skills training, counselling and support group activities.
Still others had recommendations for the Commission, with Belgium’s representative, on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, suggesting the Commission integrate the 2030 Agenda into its work, in coordination with — rather than excluded from — other Council subsidiary bodies and the Council itself. Algeria’s representative added that aid should respect Monterrey Consensus commitments for debt relief, productive investment and global economic governance.
In the second debate, speakers continued discussion under the theme “review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups”, with representatives of United Nations agencies outlining success and challenges in improving social indicators.
The Chief of the Social Integration Section in the Social Development Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said that together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), it had drafted the first-of-its-kind regional situational report, “Switched On: Youth at the Heart of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”, to examine the 2030 Agenda from a youth perspective.
For Africa, said the Director of the Social Policy Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the main challenge was to unlock the continent’s resource potential through suitable macroeconomic and social policies that would lead to sustained high economic growth.
Also speaking in the debates today were representatives of Cameroon, Belarus, Kazakhstan, India, Italy, Iran, Senegal, Algeria, Japan, Germany, Ecuador, Pakistan, Qatar, Botswana, Sweden, Kenya, Nepal, Costa Rica, United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Maldives, Republic of Moldova, Morocco, Namibia, Cuba, Benin, Libya, Rwanda and Colombia, as well as the Holy See and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Representatives of the following organizations also spoke: Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Partners in Population and Development, International Council on Social Welfare, International Federation for Family Development, International Federation for Family Development, AARP and the Latin American Human Rights Centre, as did representatives of International Labour Organization (ILO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced conference room paper E/CN.5/2016/CRP.1.
The Commission will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. Friday, 12 February, to conclude its fifty-fourth session.
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the Commission’s work affected 1.2 billion young people, more than 900 million older persons and 1 billion persons with disabilities around the world. “Your work will be crucial in ensuring that the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals truly leave no one behind,” he declared. “Economies must be put at the service of people, through effective integrated social policies.”
Indeed, he said, the Commission had shed light on the role of proactive social policies in securing economic and environmental stability, with “enormous” progress in lifting people out of extreme poverty, boosting food security, advancing universal primary education, promoting women’s empowerment and reducing maternal and child mortality. The full inclusion of persons with disabilities had critical importance in ensuring social protection for all.
In today’s world, he said, too many people continued to face exclusion, too few economies had attained inclusive and sustainable growth and people were frustrated at “working harder” while “falling behind”. Many wondered whether world leaders were listening. Through the 2030 Agenda, “we will end global poverty by 2030”, he said, and build a life of dignity for all on a healthy planet. The United Nations was ready to help States to achieve goals and work closely with civil society to give life to a shared vision.
He had recently submitted his report to the General Assembly on the milestones extending towards the coherent and inclusive follow up to the 2030 Agenda, he said, which reflected on how the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development could rally international intergovernmental platforms within the United Nations, aiming to clarify the roles of the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other forums. In such an endeavour, the Commission’s work would be critical.
ION JINGA (Romania), Chair of the Commission for Social Development, said that since its inception, it had supported Government structures and policy environments to help countries to meet their full potential. It had called for countries to take steps for “shared prosperity for all” and had pushed for coherent action in social, economic, environment and political spheres aimed at poverty eradication, decent work for all and social integration, based on the respect for human rights. In its deliberations last week, the Commission had done its best to promote 2016 as a year for national traction towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and people-centred development. The Commission had taken stock of major developments in the regions and globally, but noted that poverty remained the greatest challenge of modern times. The Commission had also expressed its deep preoccupation with the negative impact of conflict and violent extremism on social development.
The Commission then continued general debate on its priority theme “rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights, urged States that had not yet done so to ratify that instrument, stressing that a human rights perspective would help to ensure dignity for all. For its part, the Commission should integrate the 2030 Agenda into its work, in coordination with — rather than in isolation from — other Council subsidiary bodies and the Council itself. In addition, the Council’s main theme should be integrated into the work of its subsidiary bodies.
PAULINE IRENE KENDECK, Minister for Social Affairs of Cameroon, underscored the need to evaluate social policies. With that in mind, she said that over 20 years, her Government had worked to empower vulnerable social groups through its 2003 strategic poverty reduction initiative, which had been updated in 2009 and had aimed to raise growth by an annual 5.5 per cent, reduce unemployment by 50 per cent and reduce poverty to 28.7 per cent by 2020, from 39.9 per cent in 2007. In 2015, thousands of jobs had been created and the Government was working to promote access to education and health. Cameroon’s triennial action plan had emphasized the conditions required to increase industrialization and modernize agriculture and production methods.
Mr. RYBAKOV (Belarus) said to achieve sustainable development, States and the United Nations system needed to be guided by the new agenda and system-wide principles that ensured the harmonious growth of economic and social spheres, while ensuring the protection of environment. “The richer the individual, the richer the country,” he said. A major concern for Belarus was the well-being of young people, who needed to play a decisive role in the achievement of sustainable development. Among the most important elements for ensuring the success of the future development agenda would be the creation of conditions for a healthy lifestyle; including enhancing education, providing volunteer opportunities and encouraging young people’s participation in social and political life. Among the country’s challenges towards the achievement of social development was the ageing of its population, including the need for a stable pension system.
Mr. SOKHUBOD (Mongolia) said the rule of law was the foundation for social justice and equity. As such, the Government had undertaken a wide range of legal reforms to harmonize national laws with international standards. As a recent development, Parliament had ratified the Employment Service Convention No. 88 and the Private Employment Agencies Convention No. 181 of the International Labour Organization. Furthermore, it had revised its family law with a view to enhancing State support for family development, preventing domestic violence and providing child-care services. With young people and children comprising 71.5 per cent of the population, Mongolia had undertaken various initiatives to increase youth engagement in national development processes. The Government, in that regard, had opened youth development centres in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), providing skills training, counselling and support group activities.
Mr. ILIYAK (Kazakhstan) said even though the global economic slowdown had adversely affected his country, the Government’s social spending had almost tripled in real terms, with plans in 2016 to improve education and health care and increase the salaries of civil servants and public health care and social protection workers. Further, initiatives were also targeting the most vulnerable groups, including raising minimum subsistence norms. Kazakhstan’s second Road Map of Employment had ensured labour market stability, while expanded microloans for entrepreneurs would be a major focus of investment policy. Kazakhstan was committed to social protection and building resilience, both nationally and regionally, he concluded.
MAYANK JOSHI (India) said poverty eradication, decent work for all, social integration and inclusion were critical for achieving a stable, safe, harmonious and just sustainable society for all. Development was only sustainable when all sections of society realized their full potential and contributed their fullest. India had adopted a governance model that was focused on a faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth approach that focused on the welfare and well-being of its people. Policy objectives aimed at providing more jobs, improving infrastructure and connectivity, including in areas such as sanitation. Efforts also aimed at providing an uninterrupted power supply by 2022. At the moment, his country was implementing the world’s largest cash transfer programme, allocating $5 billion funds. Furthermore, the Government had set up the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog and the Ministry for Skill Development to bolster national efforts towards inclusive economic growth.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said that rethinking social development required reinforced efforts to promote that notion through forging links between social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable growth. Social coherence was essential for filling gaps that had led to poverty and a lack of protection. Initiatives were needed to ensure labour rights for all. Describing Italy’s national plan to eradicate poverty and combat social exclusion, he said efforts included making its job market more flexible.
Ms. LEMUS DE VASQUEZ (El Salvador), associating herself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and the Group of Friends, described a prosperous, equitable and inclusive vision for social development. Under a strategy that ran through 2034, that plan aimed at eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring that each member of the population enjoyed their rights. Her Government had used a multidimensional measurement of poverty that considered factors beyond income to focus on well-being, education, employment, housing and basic services, among other things. Taking such an approach had allowed the Government to make decisions that targeted geographic locations or populations affected by more extreme poverty.
G. HOSSEIN DEHGHANI (Iran), associating himself with the Group of 77, said despite notable achievements since the Copenhagen Declaration, progress continued to be uneven. Going forward, elements of social development must be fully integrated into the development agenda. Eradicating poverty was the greatest global challenge today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. It was encouraging that 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals had a strong relationship with social development. In the absence of scaled-up international support, social development continued to remain out of reach for many countries. Combating poverty and inequality had dividends far beyond economic gains, particularly in the context of battling against violent extremism. Iran was pursing nationally-appropriate policies and strategies with the participation of all relevant stakeholders with a view toward equality and social development for all.
NDEYE OUMY GUEYE (Senegal), associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said new policies and approaches were needed to address current crises facing the world. The international community must continue to combat poverty and inequality, create decent jobs for all and increase access to basic social services. The Government had launched a new plan for sustainable and inclusive development with a view towards empowering the poorest people. The plan had paid particular attention to the improvement of the living conditions of the elderly and promoting their involvement and engagement through training, assistance and information sharing to foster their empowerment. Senegal had built an economy based on strong, inclusive development, including the elimination of all forms of inequality and discrimination. Programmes to combat poverty had been put into place, specifically targeting school-aged children, with the goal of reducing illiteracy rates among rural populations, particularly with regard to women.
NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77, urged the creation of a world partnership for development based on equality and shared responsibilities. Despite “colossal” efforts to combat extreme poverty, Africa had continued to suffer the impacts of external crises. As such, aid should be aligned with the principle of effectiveness and respect for Monterrey Consensus commitments for debt relief, productive investment and global economic governance. Since 2000, Algeria’s national development plans had focused on decent jobs for all, the revitalization of rural spaces, investment, business creation and infrastructure.
NAOMI KURODA (Japan) stressed the importance of addressing poverty in families. Children required an education in order to break the chain of generational poverty and the Government had adopted a policy in 2014 that, among other things, had generated equal education opportunities. Japan promoted human security in its development cooperation, as it was essential to protect and empower individuals, notably children, women, persons with disabilities, the elderly, refugees and internally displaced persons. It had amended its official development assistance charter for the first time in 12 years to reflect that view, she said.
CARINA LANGE and ALEXANDER KAUSCHANSKI, youth delegates from Germany, recalled the core United Nations principle of “one voice, one country”. As youth delegates, they had visited with young people in classrooms, on the streets, in refugee camps and elsewhere around their country. Those perspectives had guided their actions. Young people demanded the right to be heard and involved in their communities. “We are the generation of unpaid interns,” they stressed, even at the United Nations, the pioneer of fair working conditions. “We demand to stop exploitation” and to pay interns, they said, stressing that equality, justice and human rights were not commodities to be bought with one’s nationality, status or money. “They should be for everyone,” they concluded.
DIEGO TITUAŃA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said progress had been uneven over the last 20 years since the Copenhagen Declaration. Greater emphasis must be placed on eradicating poverty and other social development objectives. Ecuador was focused on rights and equity and had created a national strategy for eradicating poverty to bridge gaps and provide new opportunities. His country gave priority to human beings over capital. Investment policies were characterized by an ongoing increase of resources to the social sector, which had resulted in a more inclusive and equitable country. By the end of 2015, Ecuador had achieved 20 of the 21 Millennium Development Goals, some of which had been accomplished beyond the standard minimum target. Ecuador had also made significant gains in social development progress, including in the areas of poverty reduction, early childhood development, labour justice, health care and education.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country had recognized the importance of social development, given that it was the sixth most populous nation in the world, with a diverse population. Pakistan had launched a multi-year national plan called Vision 2025, which was a comprehensive blueprint for accelerated and balanced socioeconomic development that had fully embraced the three pillars of human development. Vision 2025 was based on the values of solidarity, harmony and respect for all, without discrimination. It aimed at ensuring a society where the welfare of women and children was assured, youth were empowered and the weak and vulnerable were protected through income support programmes, health insurance schemes and employment opportunities, with a special focus on the needs of persons with disabilities and older people.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), associating herself with the Group of 77, said the new development agenda had focused on the need for the eradication of poverty, the creation of a free and equitable life for all and the protection of human rights. Attaching great importance to social development, Qatar was addressing the issues of equality for all, caring for the youth and older persons, providing for persons with disabilities and putting into place systems of social care and support. The family played the greatest role in the attainment of social development objectives. The needs of youth were also of great importance for Qatar and, in that context, her country had created conditions that had allowed young people to voice their opinions and play a role in the formulation of policies that would affect them.
BERZACK MAPHAKWANE (Botswana), associating himself with the “Group of 77” and the Africa Group, described national efforts in areas including good governance, citizen participation in development and poverty reduction. Those initiatives had included a comprehensive, people-centred social protection system comprising material and cash transfers to protect and empower vulnerable groups and a targeted youth empowerment scheme. With regard to socioeconomic development, agriculture remained a priority. The Government had introduced subsidies that promoted food production and accumulation of assets among the resource-poor to help them to achieve household food security and graduate out of poverty.
PER THÖRESSON (Sweden), associating with the European Union, said reducing inequalities was fundamental to achieving the 2030 Agenda, as education, health care and sanitation were critical instruments for long-term inclusive growth and environmental sustainability. Employment and decent work, social protection for all and social integration were interrelated and reinforcing. He welcomed the 2030 Agenda’s target 4.5, on eliminating gender disparities in education and ensuring equal access to education and vocational training for the vulnerable, stressing that the new set of goals required national ownership and accountability, as well as strong leadership and sufficient human and financial resources.
Ms. ODWYER, of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Global Citizenship, underscored the role that global citizenship played in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and in rethinking social development. Such efforts required the commitment and support of the peoples of the world. A global citizen strove for equality, regardless of gender, age, race and national or religious identity. She urged the United Nations to call on States to promote education for global citizenship at all levels and to ensure cooperation of education, civil society and social systems. She also asked civil society to include global citizenship in their education and social efforts.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya) said despite remarkable gains over the past few years, it was alarming that sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia still accounted for 80 per cent of global poverty. As stated in the Secretary-General’s report, Africa continued to face challenges in tackling high levels of poverty, inequality and widespread unemployment, especially among youth, women and other disadvantaged groups. Taking a people-centred approach, the Government had undertaken various measures to ensure that all persons enjoyed equal opportunity. To ensure social inclusion, it had set aside 30 per cent of all tenders for works, goods and services to youth, women and persons with disabilities, empowering their entrepreneurship to create wealth and spur development. Furthermore, it had allocated $700 million to address the unique needs of youth and provide capital to young people to start their enterprises.
SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI (Nepal) said the meeting was an opportunity to discuss how the Commission could effectively contribute to the follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In its development efforts, Nepal had taken a people-centred approach, ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights. The legislation guaranteed gender balance in Parliament, allocating a minimum of 33 per cent seats to women. Furthermore, the Government had undertaken various programmes aimed at eradicating poverty and hunger, providing quality jobs and building an egalitarian society.
ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77, said that social development was a key pillar for the achievement of the objectives laid out in the 2030 Agenda. Combating poverty alone would not be enough because countries needed to address issues of social inclusion and the full enjoyment of citizens’ rights, while making deep structural changes that prioritized the protection of people’s fundamental rights. The world must go beyond commitments and focus on the achievement of results and on ensuring human dignity. Social development agendas must be cohesive and people-centred, particularly with regard to quality education, full employment and decent work. Empowering people would be vital to achieving the new goals. Costa Rica’s social development efforts focused on the most vulnerable, including children, young people, older adults, disabled persons, the poor, indigenous peoples and migrants.
LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States) supported the primary elements of the Secretary-General’s report, including its focus on inclusive sustainable development, poverty reduction, greater inclusion, the provision of social protection and increased participation. The United States had made progress on education through monetary investments and increasing access to early learning opportunities. Her country had also launched a number of initiatives to address racial and ethnic discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, both domestically and internationally. Social inclusion was a multifaceted issue. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and intersex youth were at an increased risk of being negatively targeted and discriminated against. Elder abuse was another area of concern within the United States, including in the context of indigenous communities. Information and communication technologies had also been identified as having a key role to play in the promotion of a more inclusive society, especially with regard to young people.
MELISSA ANN MARIE BOISSIERE (Trinidad and Tobago), associating herself with the “Group of 77”, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and CELAC, said that while there had been notable achievements since the adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action 20 years ago, many countries remained unprepared to adequately address issues related to ageing, unemployment, youth and social exclusion. Trinidad and Tobago was strongly committed to strengthening its ability to improve the formulation, execution and monitoring and evaluation of its social development policies and programmes, taking into account new and emerging challenges. Her country provided free and equal access to early childhood, primary and secondary education to boys and girls. Last June, Trinidad and Tobago had also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Further, the country’s Constitution recognized and guaranteed the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens, she said.
AHMED SAREER (Maldives), associating himself with the Group of 77, said extreme poverty, access to drinking water, income inequality, illiteracy and youth unemployment were among the challenges facing the world. Urbanization, discrimination, climate change and conflict were escalating the consequences of underdevelopment, leaving more and more people vulnerable. The international community must move from rhetoric to action and draw on the vision of the new 2030 Agenda to strengthen the social dimensions of sustainable development. People must remain at the heart of development and citizens should be included in the formulation of policies to advance their rights. In that regard, education, health care, decent jobs and social protection were among the Government’s top priorities.
Ms. NIPOMICI (Republic of Moldova) said her country placed sustainable development high on its agenda, which aimed at eliminating poverty, fighting inequality and injustice and securing the planet’s sustainability for future generations. Noting that the world had changed significantly in the past 15 years, she stressed the need for a new approach to achieve social development. Describing economic crisis and climate change as current challenges, she called upon States to create coherent and coordinated policies. For its part, the Government had undertaken various activities to improve social protection, health care and environmental protection.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco) said the Millennium Development Goals, which had been established to reduce poverty and improve the lives of people, had delivered encouraging results. While significant progress had been made, climate change, social protection and unemployment had become emerging issues that needed to be addressed. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the Government had introduced various programmes aimed at eliminating marginalization and social exclusion and reducing interregional disparity. To ensure the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, peace and security must be seen as a top priority, she said, stressing the need for international cooperation.
VILBARD T. USIKU (Namibia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, called for a coherent and integrated approach to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. A supportive, fair and enabling economic and financial architecture and a genuine global partnership for sustainable development were crucial to complement national efforts. In the context of its history of apartheid policies, which had left a legacy of serious income inequalities, Namibia had enacted an affirmative action law aimed at ensuring that persons in designated groups, including women, previously racially disadvantaged persons and those with disabilities, were given preferential consideration in employment decisions. Poverty eradication was among national priorities, he said, adding that quality education, training and investment in “human capital” put people at the centre of sustainable development.
SILVIA RODRÍGUEZ ABASCAL (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, said that eradicating poverty was the main path to development. Developed countries had a key role to play in overall global development. More than 1 billion people still lived in chronic poverty, which was a statistic which served as a reminder of how much remained to be done with regard to countering hunger and promoting inclusion. The gap between developed and developing countries continued to grow, which had had a devastating effect on the poorest countries. It was necessary to promote transparency and the accountability of international bodies and organizations and global financial institutions, she said, adding that international cooperation should be genuine and focused on the serious challenges facing humanity. To fulfil the 2030 Agenda the principles of social justice and respect for every human being, among other ideals, must be fulfilled, she said.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Africa Group, said it was imperative that efforts were made to help the most vulnerable emerge from poverty. The provision of housing, decent and properly paid work, adequate food and water and access to education, health care and justice were all key priorities in Benin. To that end, his country had established policies for vulnerable social groups to improve their living conditions. Through those and other efforts, the country had achieved the Millennium Development Goal on the reduction of poverty. Vulnerable groups and the poorest people in society had been identified and were the specific focus of budgetary resources with programmes set up to help them. Rapid progress in sustainable development was also needed to combat the risks presented by violent extremism.
Mr. HARAI (Libya), drawing attention to the current challenges, including climate change, widening inequalities and unemployment, said the implementation of the 2030 Agenda was crucial to ensure that no one was left behind. To achieve socioeconomic development, his country needed to invest in social policies that aimed at reducing income disparities and creating quality jobs for all. Noting that family was the core element to achieve sustainable development, he said policies must focus on strengthening its structure.
JEANNE D’ARC BYAJE (Rwanda) said social development would play a crucial role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as it was central to achieving the overarching goal of eradicating poverty. To tackle inequities and allow social development to thrive, the Government offered free access to primary and secondary education for free. Rwanda had also provided access to universal health coverage and ensured food security through enhancing agricultural productivity and food production processes. To ensure social inclusion and inclusive development, the Government had introduced policies to meet the needs of vulnerable people. In addition, it had launched Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme, an integrated local development initiative to accelerate poverty eradication, rural growth and social protection to eradicate extreme poverty for the most vulnerable groups.
TIMOTHY HERRMANN, an observer of the Holy See, said that as the Secretary-General had stated, trends, such as climate change and recurring economic, food and energy crises, could be exacerbated by a globalization of indifference that spawned new forms of poverty, or a globalization of solidarity, which required providing every individual with the minimum spiritual and material means needed to live in dignity. The Commission could play an important role in ensuring the 2030 Agenda maintained a holistic approach that consistently promoted the common good of society.
MOHAMMAD NURUL ALAM, Permanent Observer of Partners in Population and Development (PPD), said lessons learned over the past two decades in national settings could be “distilled” as global public goods and shared through South-South cooperation. An important variable in social development was population size and growth, with dynamics in many developing countries characterized by high fertility and high child and maternal mortality. The PPD Alliance, a group of developing countries with diverse social development experiences, had served as a platform to share lessons and obstacles faced, he said.
BERTRAND DE LOOZ KARAGEORGIADES, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said sustainable development must be based on the principle of social justice. He urged the Commission to encourage universal values, taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable in poverty reduction efforts, in particular those living below the poverty threshold, including indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, the elderly, migrants and women. “We need social policies that are robust and universal,” he said, especially amid the ongoing impacts of climate and finance crises.
VINICIUS PINHEIRO, Director of the International Labour Organization Office for the United Nations, said the ILO World Employment and Social Outlook had found that the number of unemployed people had increased in 2015 by more than 0.7 million people, reaching 197.1 million globally, a 1 million increase over 2014 and more than 27 million higher than pre-crisis levels. That increase had occurred entirely in developing countries. International policy coordination was needed to make the financial system more conducive to the expansion of productive investment, while macroeconomic policies must incorporate full employment targets as part of their ultimate aim.
CARLA MUCAVI, of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the Sustainable Development Goals required a holistic, integrated, transformative and people-centred approach to fully eradicate poverty and hunger. Despite ample food supplies at the aggregate level, around 800 million people in the world were still hungry and could not exercise their right to food. In addition, rural women continued to experience poverty and exclusion and faced systematic discrimination in rights to land and natural resources. Evidence showed that when implemented on a large scale, social protection systems could help communities to overcome financial constraints and reduce poverty. It was, therefore, important to foster partnerships and ensure political commitment and adequate funding to implement relevant programmes and projects.
Mr. ZELENEV, of the International Council on Social Welfare, said strengthening social protection systems was among the best policy approaches for ending poverty and building individual resilience. His organization approached such systems as an investment rather than a cost because access to them, including to basic income security, should be guaranteed to anyone who needed it, given national priorities and constraints. The new agenda provided an unparalleled opportunity for ILO and the World Bank to join forces to make social protection a reality for everyone, everywhere. States could consider elaborating on a draft Economic and Social Council resolution on national social protection floors as a step towards universal protection.
The Commission then continued its debate under the theme “review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups”.
Ms. GARCIA (Colombia), associating with CELAC, said action plans for social groups had been drawn up under circumstances that had been different from those prevailing today, which was why the Commission should first analyse the issues to be addressed so States could provide better approaches to well-being for various population groups. Structural changes must align with the 2030 Agenda, with action plans and programmes reducing poverty from a multidimensional perspective. “We need a society that is more egalitarian and promotes social mobility,” she said, urging improved health and sanitation coverage. The Commission should not merely echo discussions in the General Assembly, but rather produce analysis of progress and challenges facing social groups.
LEONAR AGUILAR HECHAVARRIA (Cuba) noted that his country attached great importance to addressing the needs of families, persons with disabilities, youth and older persons. The Government had created various initiatives and national action plans to create a society for all, in which individuals, each with rights and responsibilities, had an active role. Such plans aimed at improving accessibility for persons with disabilities, participation of young people in the decision-making processes and the provision of social assistance to those in need. Turning to ageing, he said there were 2.14 million older people in the country and the Government saw them as a priority, providing free access to health care.
TAKYIWAA MANUH, Director of the Social Policy Division of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said Africa was close to achieving universal enrolment in primary education and it had posted the highest increase globally in women’s representation in parliament between 2000 and 2014 while reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Still, progress had been slow and uneven in many social areas. Nearly half the population remained poor, hunger and malnutrition had fallen by only 8 per cent between 1990 and 2013 and youth unemployment remained a serious development challenge. Overall, few jobs offered secure employment and social protection. Highly educated workers tended to migrate, creating a dearth of skilled professionals. The rapid growth of urban poverty coupled with climate change had had serious adverse consequences for the region. The African Agenda 2030 complemented the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The main challenge was to unlock the continent’s resource potential through suitable macroeconomic and social policies that would lead to sustained high economic growth. ECA continued to closely collaborate with the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank to help member States address those challenges. The Economic Commission would also maintain and forge new partnerships with other sister United Nations agencies and emerging players on the continent to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the African Agenda 2030.
Mr. PARTOW, of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said stigma and discrimination continued to fuel the AIDS epidemic around the world. The ambition of ending that epidemic by 2030 would not be achieved without tackling the structural factors that drove HIV epidemics. Poverty, inequality, social marginalization and discriminatory laws increased vulnerability to HIV and limited the reach and effectiveness of programmes. Investing in social protection had delivered results for HIV, he said. Work towards ending that epidemic was “symbiotic” with social development; while action across social development was essential for ending AIDS, so too could effective action in the AIDS response drive a social justice agenda. Investing in the AIDS response catalysed economic growth and had spill-over effects for health, human rights and development. He called on stakeholders to further strengthen their efforts and increase investments to eliminate all forms of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and to promote and protect the human and health rights of all people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV.
FREDERICO NETO, Director of the Social Development Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said despite gains made in adopting a new set of development goals, challenges remained. Persistent inequalities and social exclusion had rendered development gains uneven, while the impact of armed conflict in many countries had threatened to derail progress altogether. Social exclusion must be a central priority going forward by empowering excluded people and communities, such as youth, migrants, persons with disabilities and older persons. As efforts were made to promote the inclusion of social groups in the Arab region and beyond, a range of important priorities must be addressed, including ensuring that national efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals were fully inclusive of social groups, guaranteeing equitable access to essential services, investing in enhanced labour market participation and social protection for vulnerable groups and recalibrating humanitarian action to ensure that programmes and policies were integrated with development approaches.
Mr. SOCIAS, of the International Federation for Family Development, said 1,800 delegates from 43 countries had attended the Federation’s congress in October 2015 to emphasize that families had a crucial role in social development. The 2030 Agenda could remove barriers to families’ participation in society, especially their investments in health and education. Such contributions were often taken for granted, with too few measures of support in place for families and too little discussion of instruments that could empower families. Mainstreaming was not the right concept, as families were already “mainstreamed”. He advocated a two-generation approach to combating child poverty and an emphasis on active ageing, healthy lives, quality education and youth unemployment.
KATHERINE KLINE, AARP, stressed that, every second, two people reached the age of 60, and two thirds of older people were living in developing countries. Thanking the Commission for taking up the issue, she underscored the importance of redoubling efforts to effectively meet the needs of older persons. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda could not be successful without ensuring that people at all ages were given full attention and visibility. In fact, she noted that successful implementation meant taking affirmative actions and adopting relevant policies at local, national and international levels.
Mr. ALVAREZ, of the Latin American Human Rights Centre, said there was the link between human rights and social development, stressing the importance of respect for the fundamental rights of the family. Gender equality, youth, persons with disabilities and older adults must be the focus of attention, he said. In that regard, he urged the Commission to focus on individual family members, including youth, older adults and persons with disabilities.
PATRIK ANDERSSON, Chief of the Social Integration Section in the Social Development Division of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said that the body, together with the International Labour Organization (ILO), had taken the lead in drafting the first-of-its-kind regional situational report, “Switched On: Youth at the Heart of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”, to examine the 2030 Agenda from a youth perspective. ESCAP was working with research partners to collect data on the impact of youth exclusion. Regarding the issue of inequalities, ESCAP had recently released the publication “Time for Equality: The Role of Social Protection in Reducing Inequalities in Asia and the Pacific”. On disability, ESCAP would begin its preparation for the 2017 high-level meeting on the midpoint review of the current Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities. ESCAP would also publish a report on the economic impact of the ageing population.