Financing social development

A special event was arranged within the Fiftieth session of the Commission for Social Development on 3 February

The event was jointly organized by UN DESA’s divisions Financing for Development Office (FfDO) and the Division for Social Policy and Development in line with the General Assembly resolution “Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development”. The panel discussion was chaired by the Vice-Chair of the Commission, Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Elbahi (Sudan) and moderated by Mr. Alex Trepelkov, Director of FfDO.

Emphasis was placed on the importance of resource mobilization for social development, as sufficient financial resources are critical to achieve progress in such key social areas as poverty eradication, job creation, education, health, social inclusion, food security and reduction of inequalities. In order to strengthen financing of social development, challenges resulting from the recent global financial and economic crisis and the food and energy crises need to be addressed.

It is also necessary to tackle long-term, structural bottlenecks. In this context, enhancing domestic resource mobilization, including through effective tax systems, is of critical importance. At the same time, domestic efforts need to be complemented by international resources, such as ODA, innovative financing mechanisms, FDI, trade, migrant workers’ remittances and debt relief.

The panel discussion featured four panelists. Mr. Elliot Harris, IMF Special Representative to the UN, assessed comparative advantages of various types of financing for social purposes and suggested to use external financing predominantly for finite projects with measureable results.

Ms. Christine Bockstal, Chief, Technical Cooperation and Country Operations Group, Social Security Department, ILO, presented findings of the CEB Social Protection Floor Advisory Group, according to which some degree of basic income security that ensures access to essential goods and services for everybody was affordable at all levels of development.

Ms. Eva-Maria Hanfstaengl, Director, Social Justice in Global Development, stressed the role of domestic resource mobilization, including through progressive taxation, taxes on capital gains, and repatriating stolen assets. Mr. Elias Eljuri Abraham, President, National Institute of Statistics, Venezuela, highlighted experiences from his country in reducing poverty and inequality through public investments in key social areas such as housing, employment, education and health.

In the ensuing discussion, participants followed up on some issues raised by the panelists, including feasibility of social protection floors, introduction of financial transactions tax and policies to reduce inequalities. Some participants also supported the creation of a Commission on Financing for Development and the upgrading of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters to an intergovernmental body.

In his closing statement, the Chair identified four key messages of the special event:

  • (i) in the face of multiple crises, both developed and developing countries need to scale up social spending;
  • (ii) countries need to channel their recent prosperity into a more ambitious social development agenda;
  • (iii) countries should prioritize social protection financing; and
  • (iv) it is important to further strengthen financial inclusion and the role of cooperatives.

For more information:
Financing for Development