Everyone Included, a video by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the UN's 1995 Social Summit in Copenhagen.

Conferences | Social Development


In September 2015, UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which put people at the center of efforts to achieve sustainable development so no one is left behind. More than 20 years earlier, in 1995, the historic World Summit for Social Development, in Copenhagen, Denmark, also put people at the center of UN's development efforts. The Copenhagen Summit was, at its time, the largest gathering of world leaders ever assembled, attended by more than 14,000 people. At the Social Summit, Governments pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of social integration overriding objectives of development.

Fifteen years after the 1995 summit, the UN General Assembly convened a special session in Geneva in June 2000 to assess achievements since the 1995 Social Summit of Copenhagen. 

In 2015, months before the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, UN Member States recognized the need for strengthening the social dimension of sustainable development (social development for sustainable development).


The year 2020 was a milestone for social development as it marked the 25th anniversary of the Social Summit in Copenhagen - and the Copenhagen Declaration - which set out a list of ten commitments to drive social development and social progress globally at the international and national levels. In 2020, the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched a yearlong campaign to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Copenhagen Summit. Titled “Everyone Included” (see video above), the campaign was organized under the umbrella of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN75'). The DESA campaign aimed 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. Throughtout 2020, DESA reminded all stakeholders that the social pillar of sustainable development is critical to achieve the objectives of the UN's 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, as economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to reduce poverty, and that social policy plays an important role to achieve inclusive development for all.

DESA marked the 25th anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) during the 58th Session of the Commission on Social Development (CSocD58). DESA convened a Ministerial Forum under the theme of 'Twenty-five years of the World Summit for Social Development: Addressing emerging societal challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda' on 11 February 2020 at UN Headquarters in New York. The panel focused on issues that affect social development, requiring urgent consideration, and addressed new cross-cutting issues in the context of evolving global development challenges.

The UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs has committed to making social inclusion a lived reality for all groups that have historically been marginalized. The Copenhagen Declaration 25th anniversary commemoration in 2020 was a rallying point to insist on finally achieving the global eradication of poverty and creating an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development.

Throughout 2020, during the 25th year commemoration, DESA focused on four core issues:


Rooted in the United Nations Charter and guided by the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) upholds the development pillar of the United Nations. DESA brings the global community together to work towards common solutions to the world’s most pressing problems and helps countries translate their global commitments into national action in the economic, social and environmental spheres. UN DESA is a pioneer of sustainable development and the home of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where each goal finds its space and where all stakeholders can do their part to leave no one behind.


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Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The social impact of COVID-19

The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs has stated that if not properly addressed through policy the social crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic might also increase inequality, exclusion, discrimination and global unemployment in the medium and long term. 

The 15-year global effort to improve the lives of people everywhere through the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 was already off track by the end of 2019. But the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed an unprecedented crisis, causing further disruption to SDG progress, with the world’s poorest and most vulnerable affected the most, according to the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020, released in July 2020 by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

According to the report, the world had been making progress—although uneven and insufficient to meet the Goals — in areas such as improving maternal and child health, expanding access to electricity and increasing women’s representation in government. Yet even these advances were offset elsewhere by growing food insecurity, deterioration of the natural environment, and persistent and pervasive inequalities. Then the COVID-19 pandemic quickly became the worst human and economic crisis of our lifetime, spreading to all countries. UN DESA's annual stocktaking report on progress across the 17 Goals showed that it is the poorest and most vulnerable – including children, older persons, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees – who are being hit the hardest by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women are also bearing the heaviest brunt of the pandemic’s effects.