Strengthening social development in the contemporary world

Focused on the theme “Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World”, the 53rd Commission for Social Development, taking place on 4-13 February, will kick off a year of reflection and strategic planning among the intergovernmental bodies of the UN. As part of this event, a major campaign will be launched to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. For inclusion. For equality. For people.

Chaired by Ambassador Simona Mirela Miculescu of Romania, the 53rd session is expected to attract more than 500 representatives from various ECOSOC organizations attending the event in New York. This year’s priority theme, “Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World”, was chosen with attention to the proposed new global development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), currently under deliberation in the General Assembly.

2015 also marks the 20th Anniversary of the first World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995, a prime opportunity to reflect on the approach to social progress and the contributions of effective social policy to wider development goals.

“The Commission provides an ideal opportunity to focus on the role of social development as a key component of sustainable development and to identify effective means of placing people at the centre of the anticipated post-2015 development agenda,” highlighted Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) ahead of the event.

Deliberations during the Commission will take the form of general discussion as well as high-level interactive dialogues. Several scheduled side-events also promise to add to the depth of dialogue on the theme of the session.

“The Commission provides an ideal opportunity to focus on the role of social development as a key component of sustainable development and to identify effective means of placing people at the centre of the anticipated post-2015 development agenda”

Daniela Bas
Director, UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development

Member States are expected to negotiate four resolutions during the Commission. These resolutions will address issues related to social development on the African continent, older persons, youth and persons with disabilities.

Civil Society Forum

As in previous years, a civil society forum will be held one day prior to the opening of the Commission. On 3 February, prominent civil society actors, representatives of Member States and officials of the United Nations will come together to reflect on key issues related to this year’s priority theme as well as the upcoming post-2015 development agenda.

The Forum provides a platform for civil society representatives to exchange views on important issues of social development and contribute to the overall outcomes of the Commission.

Relevant conclusions of the forum and a related Civil Society Declaration will be presented to the Commission during the official opening.

Emerging issues and priority theme
Three high-level discussions will inform the work of the 53rd session of the Commission. The first one, scheduled for the afternoon of 4 February, will focus on analyzing this year’s priority theme “Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World”.

Among the speakers are Honourable Baklai Temengil, Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs of Palau, and Ms. Priti Darooka, Founder and Executive Director of the Programme for Women’s Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (PWESCR). The panel will be moderated by Mr. Michal Boni, Member of the European Parliament from Poland.

A panel discussion on “Emerging issues” will also be held during the Commission, focusing on the “Contributions of Social Development to the Transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals.” The panel will be moderated by Ms. Sarah Cook, Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and will feature speakers from other system organizations, representatives of Member States and research experts focused on issues of social development.

Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development

The third high-level event will commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen, on 6-12 March 1995. The Summit’s outcome, the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, constituted an agreement to give social development goals the highest priority. It set an ambitious people-centred agenda aimed to promote social progress, justice and the betterment of the human condition, based on full participation by all.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to address the Commission during the commemoration event. A keynote address will also be delivered by Mr. Juan Somavia, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Inter-regional Policy Cooperation and Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit for Social Development.

For inclusion. For equality. For people.

“We don’t want to just promote what we perceive as effective social policies, we want to learn how the term ‘effective’ is interpreted in practice, on the ground, in daily life”

Daniela Bas
Director, UN DESA’s Division for Social Policy and Development

To support the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, DSPD will launch a period of reflection on social progress to date and the challenges ahead. Beginning with the 53rd session of the Commission of Social Development and running throughout 2015, communication efforts of the division will give special attention to the role and contributions of social development to the process and practice of sustainable inclusive development that leaves no one behind.

The yearlong outreach campaign, “For People”, will be organized under the umbrella of the United Nations ‘2015 Time for Global Action’, and focus on the sub-theme, ‘For inclusion. For equality. For people’. The campaign aims to inspire and motivate people around the world to join an ongoing multifaceted dialogue on the progress and future of social development and its role in achieving sustainable development now and in the future.

“Putting people at the centre of sustainable development is essential to the post-2015 agenda and the continued development in a broad range of areas,” said Daniela Bas. “This campaign will not only strengthen the attention to this reality, but will engage the public in unpacking what it actually means to ‘put people at the centre’ helping to inform our work and the work of the international community from the bottom up. We don’t want to just promote what we perceive as effective social policies, we want to learn how the term ‘effective’ is interpreted in practice, on the ground, in daily life.”

For more information:

53rd Commission for Social Development

For People campaign