THIRD COMMITTEE TAKES UP SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES; CENTRALITY OF ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGIES STRESSED

GA/SHC/3517
6 October 1999

THIRD COMMITTEE TAKES UP SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES; CENTRALITY OF ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGIES STRESSED

6 October 1999


Press Release
GA/SHC/3517


THIRD COMMITTEE TAKES UP SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES; CENTRALITY OF ANTI-POVERTY STRATEGIES STRESSED

19991006

The World Bank was responding to those living in poverty and exclusion by forming coalitions of change mixing macroeconomics with social issues, the Vice-President for Human Development of the World Bank, Eduardo Doryan, told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning as it began considering social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.

The Bank was linking poverty alleviation and debt relief, Mr. Doryan continued. It was also looking at the social dimensions of crises and focusing on the human dimensions of development. Human development was about putting the disadvantaged first, those who were a large part of the human family.

The challenge was to achieve quality growth with sustainability, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Nitin Desai said. The goal of achieving poverty eradication was one example of how quality growth could be achieved. Anti-poverty strategies at the national level needed to be central in the country’s development strategy.

Policies reducing inequalities and poverty were essential to complement efforts towards active ageing, the Coordinator of the Ageing and Health Programme at the World Health Organization (WHO), Alex Calache, said. The momentum generated by the WHO initiatives in celebration of the International Year of Older Persons would now be consolidated, he added.

The commitment to girls’ education was a strategic preventive measure against female illiteracy, the representative of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Zofia Olszowska, said. Some two thirds of the 875 million illiterate people in the world were women. A 10-year programme on girls’ education, organized by different United Nations organs, was now to be presented to the Secretary-General.

Disability called for particular responses to difficult and specific situations, the Director of the Division for Social Policy and

Third Committee - 1a - Press Release GA/SHC/3517 3rd Meeting 6 October 1999

Development, John Langmore, said. Disability affected at least one in 10 persons. For each disabled person there were parents or children or siblings who were directly affected. The family remained a main pillar of support; it was the basic unit of society with a wide range of responsibilities.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Botswana, Norway, Denmark, Bangladesh, Japan, Senegal, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Netherlands and Benin. The representative of South Africa made a statement in a question and answer session.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 7 October, to continue its discussion on social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.

Committee Work Programme

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to begin considering social development, including questions relating to the world social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family.

The Committee has before it reports of the Secretary-General on cooperatives; the World Programmes for disabled persons and for youths; the presently ongoing International Year of Older Persons and a follow-up to the International Year of the family; and a report prepared jointly with the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on education for all. The Committee also has before it the relevant section of the Economic and Social Council’s 1999 report (document A/54/3, to be issued).

Documents

A report of the Secretary-General on the status and role of cooperatives in light of new economic and social trends (document A/54/57) contains information on legislation governing cooperatives which can be found in international conventions and standards, national constitutions and laws, subsidiary legislation and in by-laws. It states that cooperatives are generally covered by the basic human rights guaranteed under national constitutions. The report also contains information on legislative and administrative initiatives taken in Western Europe, North America and Japan related to the legal administrative framework for cooperatives, as well as on initiatives taken in the 1990s.

Regarding initiatives taken in the 1990s, the report defines three groups of countries. The first are those countries which reported that no substantial or significant changes had recently taken place which would have affected cooperative development. The second group are countries in which some significant changes were introduced within the last decade affecting the status, the legal and administrative framework governing the activities of cooperatives. The third group is composed of countries where amendments to the national legal and administrative framework governing activities of cooperatives are still in the process of elaboration.

The report also contains information on the participation of the cooperative sector in reforming cooperative legislation, as well as on the process of elaborating United Nations guidelines for the development of cooperatives. Further, the report’s annex includes guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of cooperatives.

The report states that the legislative and administrative initiatives governing cooperatives in former socialist countries or those in transition had the appearance of being democratic. Thus, membership in “cooperatives” was considered to be voluntary but, in reality, people were compelled to join. When such countries started their transition to free market economies, they faced the challenge of elaborating a totally new legal and administrative framework for almost all aspects of life, including cooperative arrangements. Those countries have expressed their readiness to contribute to elaborating United Nations guidelines.

The report also contains information on legislative and administrative initiatives taken in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In many of those countries,

governments preferred to have State-controlled and State-funded cooperatives as a tool or an extension of public administration. Among the initiatives taken during the 1990s by those countries was a State withdrawal from supervising cooperatives. Also, according to the report, those countries would consider guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment for the development of cooperatives, as elaborated by the United Nations, to be of great value for reforming and updating their national legislations.

Finally, the report states that the majority of Western European and North American countries, as well as Japan, considered it important to offer balanced and practical rules for all legal entities, including cooperatives.

The Committee has before it a report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (document A/54/388). The report gives an overview of recent policy and programme activities carried out by governments and the United Nations system. It also reviews international norms and standards related to persons with disabilities. Data and statistics regarding disabled persons were derived from activities of the United Nations Statistics Division, and from selected activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Further, the report describes progress in implementing planned improvements to accessibility for disabled persons at United Nations Headquarters. Finally, the report indicates that during the 20-month period up to 31 August, the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability provided nearly $1 million to 35 disability-related projects. Details of those projects are appended as an addendum to the report.

The Secretary-General’s report on implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (document A/54/59) is also before the Committee. It takes into account the views of Member States, agencies and organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental youth organizations and intergovernmental organizations for the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) and for the third session of the World Youth Forum (Braga, Portugal, 2-7 August 1998). Material collected by the Youth Unit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division for Social Policy and Development is also incorporated.

The report describes priority youth issues for the twenty-first century, covering such areas as the evolution and growth of those issues since the 1985 International Youth Year, during which youth was first described as persons between fifteen and twenty-four years of age. The report describes the intersectoral nature of those issues and outlines the steps taken at the national, regional and global levels to implement the World Programme of Action, adopted in 1995 by General Assembly resolution 50/81, describing 10 core social issues impacting the lives of young people: education; employment; hunger and poverty; health; environment; drug abuse; juvenile delinquency; leisure; girls and young women; and participation in society and decision-making.

Providing a review and appraisal of implementation at the national, regional and international levels, the report makes recommendations for actions at those levels. At the national level, it recommends that governments and the United Nations system place emphasis on preparing and training youth and their organizations for their full participation in the national youth policy

process. At the regional level, the regional commissions should build youth development networks to share experiences and resources, as well as to monitor the situation of youth and build solidarity among organizations for young people. Regional youth NGOs, in particular youth coordination platforms, should be strengthened with financial, human and technical resources.

Finally, at the global level, the report recommends that teams of United Nations interns and volunteers support the work of the Youth Unit on a regular basis. Also, interregional and regional advisers on youth should be funded on an extra-budgetary basis in coordination with the regional commissions. And, an advisory body should be constituted at the appropriate level to review applicability of the terms of reference regarding the United Nations Youth Fund and means of strengthening its capacities. The constitution of such a body was expected to have no financial implications if members were drawn from New York- based permanent Missions or NGOs in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

The interim report of the Secretary-General and of the UNESCO Director- General on progress towards education for all: the year 2000 assessment (document A/54/128-E/1999/70) examines the progress being made in the Education for All (EFA) goals set out in the Jomtien World Declaration on Education for All and the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs, derived from the World Conference on that issue held at Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9 March 1990. The interim report contributes to the implementation review being conducted by the EFA 2000 Assessment, which examines the six target dimensions to education underlying the EFA goals: early childhood; primary education; reductions of illiteracy, particularly among women; improved learning; non-formal education; and family learning for improving quality of life.

The interim report reaffirms education as the cornerstone of social development, related to key social issues such as poverty alleviation and equity. It describes the rationale for the EFA 2000 Assessment and states there will be a huge demand for international agency assistance in the twenty- first century for improving data collection and interpretation. Describing advocacy services and upcoming events at the national, regional and global levels, the interim report states that the demand for literacy has increased drastically in recent years. Further, since literacy was a requirement for sustainable development, a literacy decade was greatly needed. It should have a positive focus; rather than aiming to eradicate illiteracy, the decade should aim to create a literate world. The Secretary-General’s final report on the EFA 2000 Assessment is to be submitted in April 2000 following the World Education Forum.

In his report on the International Year of Older Persons 1999: activities and legacies (document A/54/268), the Secretary-General states that in light of rapid population ageing and the projected demographic shifts extending into the coming century, governments have the responsibility to ensure the well-being and health of all citizens. Such responsibility transcends any considerations of gender, social class, age group and ethnicity.

According to the report, it is necessary to move from an emphasis on the negative characteristics of older persons to their contributions; and from responding to ageing as a problem to viewing it as a potential for creating wealth and as a catalyst of flourishing lives. Each society must follow its own course towards the realization for a society of all ages and determine the first crucial step to be taken in that direction.

The report describes activities undertaken with relation to the 1999 International Year of Older Persons, which had the theme, “a society for all ages”. Listing those activities at the national, intergovernmental and non- governmental levels, the report also describes expected outcomes and legacies of the year. The report examines initiatives taken to affect positively the life-long development of individuals and to encourage multigenerational relationships and promote recognition of the interaction between population ageing and development. It also examines the relationship between women and ageing, stating that the majority of older women have fewer resources and opportunities than men, which creates obstacles to their full participation in the socio-economic, cultural and political life of their countries.

The legacies expected to be left by the 1999 International Year through an assessment of its worldwide impact could not yet be determined overall, the report states. However, the Year’s impact on the United Nations Programme on Ageing was obvious. To promote the Year, the Programme had extended its exploration of the roles, opportunities, entitlements and contributions of older persons in fast-changing societies. It had also engaged in the ongoing formulation of a policy framework for a society for all ages, together with a research engine to drive it.

An annex to the report includes highlights of an expert consultation on developing a policy framework for a society for all ages. By combining strategic thinking with pragmatic measures, the consultation represents the latest stage in a continuing process intended to facilitate movement towards a society for all ages. The annex was elaborated throughout the Year, most notably at a United Nations interregional expert consultation in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 11 to 16 June.

Finally, the Secretary-General’s report on follow-up to the International Year of the Family (document A/54/256) states that five years after the 1994 International Year of the Family, the discourse and debate at the global level continues to express the concern of governments for actions supporting families as the basic units of society. A common understanding exists that all actions and policies affect and impact on families. Specific measures are needed to preclude negative consequences in the attempt to support and strengthen families. Towards that end, many governments have geared national development strategies to take into account the role of families in society or the effect of those strategies on families.

The report contains a summary and recommendations for complying with the Year’s objectives. Those include: to increase awareness of family issues among governments; to strengthen national institutions in formulating, implementing and monitoring policies in respect of families; and to enhance the effectiveness of local, regional and national efforts to carry out specific programmes concerning families.

The report recommends that the United Nations system play a supporting role, as appropriate and as requested by governments. In addition, priority should be given to building up local capacity in developing countries and in countries with economies in transition. Priority should also be given to training personnel who can formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate appropriate policies and programmes related to families. Also, more attention should be turned to the observation of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, to be held in 2004, in order to strengthen follow-up actions, especially at the national and local levels. Furthermore,

in order to fulfil the requests from governments for assistance, the resources of the United Nations Trust Fund on Family Activities needs to increase.

The report includes a summary of activities to follow up the International Year of the Family at the level of national governments; the United Nations system; research centres; and non-governmental organizations. It also lists current and future family-related activities of the United Nations Secretariat, such as substantive servicing of intergovernmental bodies; assisting governments on family-related policies, programmes and initiatives; promoting international cooperation in the field of family research; strengthening linkages between the United Nations and civil society; and the projects of the United Nations Trust Fund on Family Activities.

In a note on the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (document A/54/62), the Secretary-General states that the Conference, held at Lisbon from 8 to 12 August 1998, adopted the Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, among other resolutions. The Declaration was circulated as an annex to document A/53/378. The complete report of the Conference (document WCMRY/1998/28) would be made available to both the Commission for Social Development and to the current Assembly session.

A note by the Secretariat transmits a resolution recommended to the General Assembly by the Economic and Social Council through the Committee (document A/C.3/54/L.2), concerning policies and programmes involving youth. It takes note of the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (document A/54/59, noted above). It also takes note of the holding of the third session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System at Braga, Portugal, from 2 to 7 August 1998. It recommends that the Second World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth be organized under the aegis of the United Nations, and takes note of the offer made by the Government of Turkey to organize the second World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth together with the fifth session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System and the World Youth Festival. It further welcomes the offer of the Government of Senegal to host the fourth session of the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System in 2000.

Statements

JOHN LANGMORE, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, said a person’s entire future life course was, to a significant extent, shaped by the manner of the passage through youth and the opportunities that were seized at that stage in life. Moreover, today’s young people would grow old with their numbers larger than ever in history. “The significance for society as a whole of the way young people come to adulthood will be greater than ever”, he said.

This year was a prodigious year for the United Nations programme on ageing, its impact already evident in the programme’s proactive and expanding role, he said. Priority measures included the continuing refinement of the policy framework for a society for all ages; and further elaboration of the research agenda on ageing for the twenty-first century, among others. Collaborative plans were under way for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 that would promote greater recognition of the implications of demographic change, and a shift from a negative view. Policy approaches to ageing until now had tended to focus on care provision and income security. Recognition of the need for

mainstreaming ageing required a fundamental shift in orientation, with a more positive response to the prospects of further increase in life expectations and the ageing of populations.

Disability called for particular responses to difficult and specific situations, always with sensitivity and within the broader framework set by the Copenhagen Summit of advancing “a society for all”, he said. Disability affected at least one in 10 persons. For each disabled person there were parents or children or siblings who were directly affected. “Insofar as caring for disabled persons is a burden, much or most of it falls on families”, he said. The family remained a main pillar of support; it was the basic unit of society with a wide range of responsibilities.

LEGWAILA LEGWAILA (Botswana), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, which met at the United Nations in May, had made much progress towards realization of objectives set out in Copenhagen in 1995. To make any real and sustainable impact on poverty, sufficient economic growth had to be generated to finance the various cross-cutting initiatives highlighted in the Copenhagen Plan of Action.

The challenge of social development was becoming more formidable in today’s globalizing world, he continued. The 1.3 billion members of the human family living in absolute poverty was striking evidence of the challenge. The millions in developing countries still lacking basic education, health care and nutrition further exemplified the magnitude of the social inequities faced in the world.

He said the SADC was expected to realize an average growth rate of over 3 per cent during the current year due largely to macroeconomic policies and the cumulative benefits of integrating sectoral economic activity. That fell far short of the 6 per cent increase needed to reduce poverty. Despite far-reaching and painful economic reforms undertaken by the SADC countries, foreign direct investment had just trickled in and official develop assistance (ODA) had steadily declined. Democracy, respect for human rights and good governance were most important to the SADC. It needed help from the international community to deal with economic and physical constraints.

JOHN RAGMAR AARSET, Youth Representative, Norway, said the Fourth World Youth Forum should take place in the year 2001 in order to be better prepared for it. He supported the strengthening of the United Nations Youth Unit. “We recommend all Member States to include youth representatives in their delegations”, he said. Youth interests in the United Nations system could only be fully represented by the young themselves. In addition, it would be useful to have a specific United Nations report on young people’s possibilities of influence and representation on different levels in society, and especially in the political decision-making processes.

Debt was one of the most important obstacles for development in many of the world’s poor countries, he said. “They are trapped in a cycle of poverty, partly caused by the huge official bilateral debts and debt to international financial institutions”, he added. In order to combat poverty, debt cancellation was a necessity. Debt was a serious impediment to economic and social development for many poor countries, which spent more on debt repayments than on education, health care and basic services. Young generations suffered because they were dependent on financial resources for education.

HOLGER KALLEHAUGE (Denmark) said regional initiatives were very positive because they allowed for plans of action to be aimed at specific needs of countries. They also enhanced a feeling of ownership and responsibility towards the process. Regional plans needed to be underpinned by United Nations inter-agency meetings, to be held once a year in all regions. Such meetings needed to be arranged by the United Nations regional office in cooperation with the regional development bank. The exchange of information and better coordination in the region of work possibilities for the disabled would be a major goal.

LOUISE MARIEGAARD, Youth Representative, Denmark, said the current knowledge of how to engage young people in development programmes was still very limited. Many youth organizations were ready to contribute with their experiences and ideas through pilot projects and other activities. In order to involve young people in development, their rights needed to be insured, including their right to make their own choices regarding education and employment. Only a few young people, however, experienced the large degree of freedom needed to make choices crucial to their future lives.

Young people and youth organizations could play an important role in civil society by contributing to democratization. They could also participate in the peaceful reconciliation after armed conflicts, she said. “They are often more open-minded than former generations due to the greater stream of information globalization has provided”, she said. Her Government proposed that the United Nations Development Project give special attention to youth in the annual human development report.

HOSNE ARA WAHID (Bangladesh) said he welcomed the World Programme of Action for Youth. In Bangladesh, one in every three persons was a youth. The Government paid great attention to their development. The updated national youth policy focused on encouraging the broadest participation of youth through bottom-up planning and a participatory implementation process at the grass- roots level. The strategy was based on integrating youth in all aspects of national development. Through a programme of microcredit facilities, the Government had introduced a self-employment system benefiting over half a million youth.

In addition, he said, the Government had undertaken leadership training programmes aimed at the rural areas. It had provided education and health services for youth, including a drug control element. The same kind of programme was being implemented for the disabled. The Government’s programme for the elderly included a pension allowance and social security. The National Plan for the Older Persons, already finalized and soon to be adopted, addressed issues related to the physical and psychological well-being of the elderly, along with their economic advancement and their involvement in cultural activities.

SONOKO NISHITATENO (Japan) said this year was significant for social development, in part because it was the International Year of Older Persons. That had made a great impact on the international community and had affected its views on an important issue. The issue of ageing had to be taken up by all countries, both developed and developing, especially as it related to women.

She said the Secretary-General’s report on the wide range of activities concerning persons with disabilities was welcome. It was also welcome to note that as a result of recent developments in the field of information and telecommunications technology, persons with disabilities had received increased access to information in all areas. That had facilitated their social participation. Japan had issued guidelines on accessibility to telecommunications equipment for persons with disabilities as part of its effort to build an information barrier-free society. Japan was also promoting research and development of equipment for that purpose and was supporting capacity-building in developing countries to provide equal opportunity to persons with disabilities.

IBRA DEGUENE KA (Senegal) said obstacles still existed in regard to attaining the strategies set by the United Nations for social development. Globalization posed a great challenge to those goals. In addition, cooperatives faced a great variety of legal matters as a consequence of globalization. It was important for the international community to emphasize the positive role the cooperative movement played in societies. The United Nations needed to prepare general guidelines to develop the cooperative movement. Furthermore, an international partnership among cooperatives themselves was necessary.

The International Year of the Family needed a programme of action and some sort of measurement to determine its success. There was still a problem of access to basic social services worldwide. Resources of the United Nations Trust Fund needed to be increased for programmes geared towards the family. His country would host the World Education Forum under the programme on “Education for All”. He appealed to all youth organizations to participate in development programmes. He hoped for the strengthening the youth unit in the United Nations Secretariat would be strengthened.

AKMARAL ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakhstan) said much concrete action had been taken in the areas of poverty eradication, creation of productive employment and social integration since the Copenhagen Summit of 1994. The Special Session of the General Assembly scheduled for next year to assess progress in implementing the Copenhagen Programme of Action would stimulate active international and regional cooperation in solving the acute social problems still facing humanity. Priority issues should be the social issues such as family, health, safety and eradication of poverty.

Education was a key to achieving the Copenhagen objectives, she continued. On the threshhold of the next century, young people had to take a vital role in decision-making processes. It was regrettable that the most vulnerable groups of the population -- the unemployed, the disabled, the elderly, children and women -- suffered most from economic crises. A main task for Kazakhstan was to resolve acute social problems by creating a broad and reliable system of protection aimed at raising the standard of living for the population. That included such measures as stimulating self-employment by providing credit and establishing workshops in cooperation with the United Nations.

LUIS ALBERTO AMOROS NUNEZ (Cuba) said social justice for all had been one of his country’s great achievements. An increase of young people’s participation in social life was crucial. Youth in his country participated in several aspects of society, such as the Parliament. Also, the ageing population was guaranteed free medical services as well as social security. Furthermore, life expectancy

had increased to 75 years of age. Several projects had taken place in his country in regard to the International Year of Older Persons.

The care for people with disabilities was of great priority in his country. They were included in all aspects of society such as education, culture and sports. In addition, special education guaranteed enrolment of 85 per cent of those people. All of the above had been achieved in spite of the on-going economic war with the United States. Poor sanitation and unemployment were growing. Development aid to his country needed to be increased.

RINDERT DE GROOT, Youth Representative, (Netherlands) said the Internet could contribute to social development and to youth empowerment. Youth made up half of the on-line community even though they were less than a quarter of the world population. Young people were immersed in learning and personal development. They were open to new ideas and innovations. Inventing and executing new projects was where the Internet became useful.

The Internet provided an opportunity for young people to start their own activity, an NGO, youth council or small-scale enterprise. It helped new projects function better with fewer resources. Two issues were important to confront with regard to the Internet’s shortcomings: the quantity and quality of Internet access. The information gap between the well-connected developed world and the poorly-connected developing countries had to be dealt with by addressing deeply intertwined general development issues.

NICOLE ELISHA (Benin) said market-oriented agriculture was trying to satisfy the outside market and farmers no longer could plant for themselves. That was forcing young people to move to cities. Too many young people aged 10 to 15 years were working in sweatshops and other difficult jobs. In addition, young people who finished their studies could not find jobs. Living conditions in the countryside needed to be improved to achieve social balance.

Seven per cent of her country represented older persons, she said. That meant that longevity programmes were needed.

Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Nitin Desai, said the challenge in the modern world was to achieve growth with sustainability. The quality of the growth was important. The goal of poverty eradication was one example of how quality could be achieved. If absolute poverty were to be halved, equity and social justice would have to be built into the strategy for eradicating it.

Poverty was closely tied in with employment, he continued. Within the group of the unemployed and the poor, some were completely disadvantaged and a great deal of social stress fell on those groups. They included youth and women, who were disadvantaged due to the feminization of poverty which was caused by a number of reasons. A further aspect of employment and poverty was the age factor. In the developed world, people could not work past a certain age. In the developing world, people worked too hard all their lives. The final group affected by the correlation between limited employment opportunity and poverty was the disabled, of whom there were 500 million in the world.

Those groups had to be mainstreamed into employment-intensive sectors of society, he said. Every culture had different ways of dealing with that need.

The important point was that those issues involving the overcoming of poverty by increasing employment should not be viewed as special issues. They had to be injected into other areas of development. Trade policies, for example, had to back up support for providing higher-level employment for those sectors which now were confined to low paying areas, such as textiles. Anti-poverty strategies at the national level need to be devised and they had to be central to the country’s development strategy.

ALEX KALACHE, Coordinator, Ageing and Health Programme said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Ageing and Health Programme” had adopted a conceptual framework based on a functional capacity model. There was much that could be done to halt the rate of decline for those individuals who had reached a “threshold of disability” by intervening in order to restore functions. Those for whom regaining functional capacity was no longer possible, should be helped to ensure a maximum quality of life.

The WHO Ageing and Health Programme had developed a global strategy on active ageing which had four components: information strengthening and dissemination; advocacy; capacity-building and policy development. The programme comprised a broad partnership consisting of other intergovernmental agencies within the United Nations system, governmental agencies, non- governmental organizations and academic institutions.

World Health Day on 7 April had been dedicated to the theme of “Healthy Ageing Makes the Difference”. Heads of States had actively participated in the celebration and had promoted new initiatives and policies. WHO had also launched the “Global Movement on Active Ageing” held on 2 October. Millions of people in 97 countries had marched in “what is reckoned to have been the largest ever simultaneous health promotion event in the world”, he said.

The momentum generated by WHO initiatives in celebration of the International Year of Older Persons would now be consolidated, he continued. The WHO would establish a programme for research on ageing and health. Active ageing included every dimension of life -- physical, mental, social and spiritual. Policies that reduced inequalities and poverty were essential to complement efforts towards active ageing.

PERCIVAL MOFOKENG (South Africa) asked why implementation of decisions reached at the Lisbon Youth Summit had been so slow.

Mr. Desai said his department could not deliver assistance at the field level. Delivery at the field level was an issue needing to be addressed. That was being done. It would take time.

EDUARDO DORYAN, Vice President of Human Development of the World Bank, said the widespread visibility of recent economic reversals and social setbacks had highlighted the human costs of financial crises in emerging markets. Separating macroeconomic policy-making and human development was a failure. For the World Bank, the challenge was to hear the voices of those whose lives had been burdened by poverty and exclusion, and to respond in ways that were effective. Those included women, youth, families and the poor who have expectations of their governments.

Governments had been under enormous pressure to meet those groups’ needs, he continued. Their needs encompassed areas of life dealing with material well-being, physical well-being, security, freedom of choice and action and

good social relations. When it came to dealing with people directly, there was no hiding behind diplomacy.

The World Bank was meeting those needs by forming coalitions of change to mix macroeconomics with social issues, he said. It was linking poverty alleviation and debt relief. It was looking at the social dimensions of crises. It was focusing on the human dimensions of development. Human development was about putting the last first, all those who were disadvantaged, who were a large part of the human family. Moving towards the five-year review of the Program of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, many would be asking the score. The answer was to listen to the voice of the poor.

ZOFIA OLSZOWSKA, representative of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said the ongoing "Education for All (EFA) Assessment 2000" exercise would culminate with the World Education Forum to be held in Senegal in April next year.

The educational achievements of the last decades had given reason for optimism to achieve 3.3 billion literate persons worldwide. The commitment to girls’ education was a strategic preventive measure against female illiteracy. Some two thirds of the 875 million illiterate people in the world were women. A 10-year programme on girls’ education, organized by different United Nations organs, was now to be presented to the Secretary-General. It would be based on the premise that national partners must lead.

The UNESCO’s follow-up on the International Year of the Family included the following activities: translating the general objectives of the Year into practical education and cultural goals; placing the family on the international research agenda and raising public awareness of the fundamental role of the family in the education of children.

The issue of ageing had been incorporated into UNESCO’s general activities against poverty. In addition, solid steps towards closer inter- agency cooperation on youth issues had been achieved through UNESCO’s participation in the four-year project titled “The Global Meeting of Generations”.

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For information media. Not an official record.