Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Opening Remarks
Civil Society Forum to the Commission for Social Development
“Inequalities and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development:
Rethinking and Strengthening Social Development in the Contemporary World”

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to begin my own statement by reiterating the thanks issued by the Secretary-General.

The Civil Society Forum has become an important pre-event of the Commission on Social Development, and this year’s edition is of particular importance.

This session of the Commission will be the first meeting of an ECOSOC functional commission after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the historic Paris Agreement combating climate change. Your active participation enriched all these agreements.

I know you have been working together to strengthen this forum and to align its outcomes more closely with the work of the Commission.

Strong contributions from civil society will help to inform the Commission’s deliberations and strengthen the guidance it provides, as it contributes to implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda and continues to track the progress of implementation of the 1995 Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last year the international community mapped a new development path that seeks to address the economic, social and environmental pillars of development in equal and integrated ways, and end extreme poverty once and for all.

Last year also marked the twentieth anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development – a timely reminder to the international community of the importance of strengthening the social pillar of sustainable development. As an international community, we have recognised the importance of leaving no one behind, especially those people at risk of marginalization. Reducing inequalities, reversing social exclusion and breaking the cycle of poverty depend on this.

The theme of this year’s Forum, focusing on inequalities and the sustainable development goals, is therefore timely and relevant.

Despite progress in reducing poverty and improving the social situation of many, the global inequality crisis remains serious. The richest one per cent of people has more wealth than the rest of the world combined. Hunger is declining, but not fast enough. Too many are denied the benefits of development and economic growth.

Inequality is not just a lack of equality between people, but a lack of equality in opportunities for all. The world’s youth, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, stand among a too-long list of social groups striving for equality.

How can we tackle rising inequality? How do we address the gaps?

While we may not have all the answers, we are clear on the importance of partnerships. Governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector need to work together if the new agenda is to be implemented with any real success.

I assure you that DESA is committed to genuine partnerships with civil society in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

We are acutely aware of the important contribution that you make.

We value the networking, and exchange of ideas and experiences that collaboration with civil society permits. And we are well aware of your important role in helping to identify global priorities.

Forums like this, as well as other activities organised in partnership with the UN, can provide a structured opportunity for open dialogue on social policy and development issues. We welcome your initiative to create this space.

I wish you a constructive and rewarding Forum.

I am certain the Commission is looking forward to hearing the results of your discussions.

Thank you.

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