A more inclusive and responsive approach is needed to support families, as they are the fundamental social unity of society, the Commission for Social Development was told as it concluded the general debate of its fifty-seventh session.
“Families play an important role in the delivery of the 2030 Development Agenda, as both active stakeholders in its implementation and as beneficiaries of sustainable development and inclusive growth,” said the representative of the United Kingdom.
He said that families must receive the necessary support to thrive, through ensuring that family policies and broader social protection systems meet their changing needs.
For instance, the United Kingdom developed a 75-point action plan to address the social exclusion of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Djibouti’s delegate said his country reached a turning point in its efforts to combat inequality in 2008 with the adoption of its National Strategy for Social Protection, which seeks to expand assistance to all those in need, strengthen the resilience of populations and bolster capital development programmes.
The strategy is being carried out jointly with other national instruments, including a broad solidarity plan — aimed at building a more just and equitable society — which has already reached more than 250,000 households.
China has already lifted some 700 million people out of poverty, its delegate said, noting that its middle-income population has increased to over 300 million and it now provides basic health care to more than 3.5 billion people.
In the global arena, China works to create new drivers of development, with its Belt and Road Initiative now entering a new phase aimed at delivering “high quality development with more practical results”, he added.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Monaco, Senegal, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and several non-governmental organizations.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 21 February, to act on draft proposals and conclude its work.
YOUSSOUF ADEN MOUSSA (Djibouti), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the African Group, said the challenges posed by inequality are more urgent than ever. Welcoming the current version of the Commission’s outcome document as properly balanced, he outlined many of his country’s national policies to protect members of the most vulnerable groups, including older persons, women and youth. Djibouti reached a turning point in its efforts to combat inequality in 2008 with the adoption of its National Strategy for Social Protection, which seeks to expand assistance to all those in need, strengthen the resilience of populations and bolster capital development programmes. The strategy is being carried out jointly with other national instruments, including a broad solidarity plan — aimed at building a more just and equitable society — which has already reached more than 250,000 households.
WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said unbalanced and unequitable growth — along with protectionist policies — pose severe challenges across the world today. “We must put people first and take their well-being and their all-around development as the motivation of our work,” he said, calling on nations to work together to contribute to, and benefit from, global economic development. Noting that all States have an equal right to participate in decision-making, he called for better global governance, adding: “We should continue to make the pie bigger, while dividing [it] more fairly.” Because countries have different needs and priorities, they should align the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with their national strategies in ways that make sense. Since China’s recent opening, it has seen historic achievements in social security, income distribution, health and happiness. The country has already lifted some 700 million people out of poverty, he said, noting that its middle-income population has increased to over 300 million and it now provides basic health care to more than 3.5 billion people. In the global arena, China works to create new drivers of development, with its Belt and Road Initiative now entering a new phase aimed at delivering “high quality development with more practical results”.
CLOTILDE A. FERRY (Monaco) said countries must use budgetary measures to reduce inequality and social exclusion. She underscored the importance of implementing the World Programme for Action on Youth and investing in human capital, including in education. Monaco welcomes the Secretary-General’s strategy to empower young people in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. Her country is organizing meetings with school children in efforts to achieve a carbon-neutral society. She also welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation on creating decent jobs. People with disabilities continue to be exposed to risks of poverty disproportionately. Monaco devotes resources to them. Monaco set up a platform for microcredit, especially for women, who make up 70 per cent of small business owners.
SAM GROUT-SMITH (United Kingdom) shed light on families as a fundamental unit of society. Family relations have an impact on a child’s well-being. Families should thrive, and their changing needs must be met. Families play a vital role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Various forms of family exist, including same-sex families. Family polices must be inclusive. In 2017, the United Kingdom conducted a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survey, and formulated a 75-point action plan based on the study to deliver inclusive services in education, health, employment and safety. The Commission needs a new approach to families so that none are left behind.
WINIFRED DOHERTY, Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, speaking on behalf of a group of organizations, called for a halt to financial systems that support the pursuit of wealth to benefit a few at the expense of the majority. Underlining the importance of a living wage, decent work and social protection — including social protection floors — she said Catholic social teaching is built on such principles as human dignity, the stewardship of creation and the common good. The extreme amassment of wealth is both a cause and effect of social ills, she stressed, adding that, if left unchecked, growth in technology and artificial intelligence pose major threats to all of humanity. “We need a strong ethic of solidarity, embracing the logic of the common good and the common dignity of all people,” she said.
ROBERTUS MIRSEL, VIVAT International, conveyed his condolences to the victims of the recent mine collapse in the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, stressing that the tragedy demonstrates the need for better environmental and social practices. Compensation payments for disasters should address social development issues, he said, also underlining the potential benefits of environmental bonds. Mining companies should use responsible practices and contribute to such responses, while helping to build inclusive communities. In addition, he called for a binding treaty for business and human rights, as well as effective justice to hold accountable those “who bet on impunity”.
ELSA MUTTATHU, International Presentation Association, said access to social support is often denied at the level of implementation. Her organization works with community leaders and volunteers in more than 200 local communities, identifying challenges that can be addressed through social protection policies. In India, such work resulted in a new water handpump that serves a local school and 100 local households. Such advocacy demonstrates the power wielded by local communities, non-governmental and faith-based organizations “when we put people and planet at the centre of development”, she said.
MONICA JAHANGIR-CHOWDHURY, International Movement ATD Fourth World said social protection is a core human right under international law, urging Member States to formulate and implement national strategies to establish four basis security guarantees for a social protection floor in line with ILO recommendation number 202, including access to essential health care and basic income security.
MARINE DAVTYAN, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that social protection is a critical enabler of the AIDS response. HIV-sensitive social protection policies are needed. Cash transfers have been shown to empower young women, keep them in school, reduce transactional sex and increase retention in care, leading to a positive effect on HIV-related outcomes. She called on Member States and other partners to live up to the commitment made in the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS to achieve zero stigma and discrimination against all people living with, affected by or at risk of HIV.
BAR SIMAN TOV, Pirate Parties International, said that his organization and its partners collaborate to foster online democratic decision-making, urging the Commission and Member States to address social inclusion challenges by promoting open-source online collaboration and decision-making tools and providing access to such technologies to everyone.
EVA RODRIGUEZ, Corporacion Culturale Neueva Acropolis Chile, called on the Commission to address three areas related to youth development that go beyond traditional education: philosophy, culture and volunteering. Youth can play a major role in helping society respect human dignity, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity. Meanwhile, youth volunteer work is a clear sign of resilience in any society and can promote creative experiences that allow individuals to imagine new and better paths for society. In addition, she asked Member States to include philosophical perspectives in their national strategies with the aim of achieving a more just world.
JOSEPH KLOCK, New Humanity, associating himself with ATD Fourth World, said economic freedom recognizes the right of every person to live free from poverty. Voicing support for a reasonable redistribution of resources across society, he outlined a strategy that supports young and aspiring entrepreneurs in the framework of the norms enshrined in the New Testament. Its core principle — the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — can guide not only individuals but also nations. Freedom from poverty helps people grow and societies to thrive, he said.
SERGEI ZELENEV, International Council on Social Welfare, expressed support for a broader view of social policy and more effective public spending, as discussed during the Commission’s current session. Warning of the risk that the promise of leaving no one behind “will remain solely on paper”, he spotlighted such challenges as inadequate social support and a lack of opportunity. Delegates should bring the Commission’s call for integrated social and macroeconomic perspectives back to their capitals, he said, adding that addressing social challenges should be seen as an investment in people. In that regard, he proposed the creation of a new, high-level political initiative aimed at upholding social protection at the global level as well as the drafting of an Economic and Social Council resolution on social protection systems, including floors.
MASAKO OSAKO, International Longevity Center Global Alliance, spoke of the importance of the digital inclusion of older persons and their need for digital training as a major component of lifelong learning. More than 80 per cent of those 65 years old have access to the Internet in some countries, while the rate is less than 10 per cent in some other countries.
Abdoulaye Barro (Senegal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Union, said that his Government in 2018 adopted the most social-policy oriented budget in history, devoting significant resources to services to reduce inequality, including programmes on family security subsidies, universal health coverage, services for people with disabilities and programmes targeted at people of 60 years old or above, and free health care for children age 5 and under. It has set a minimum wage for farmers leading to a 4.8 per cent increase in salaries. The Government is reviewing its pension policy and created an entrepreneurship programme for young people and women to foster small and mid-size businesses.
MARIO FAVLAKIS, Hellenic Association of Political Scientists, said the rehabilitation and reintegration of people affected by disasters requires prompt attention and more effective, productive policies. People with disabilities have special vulnerabilities, he said, noting that only 20 per cent of that population is currently estimated to have the capability to deal with the results of disasters. Public-private partnerships and research and development are crucial to addressing those challenges, he said
ADA OKIKA, Irene Menakaya School Onitsha, said culture is essential to bringing about equality. All people have the right to the necessary means for well-being, as well as to take part in the decision-making processes that impact them. Noting that her organization works to pursue those goals through culture and education projects on the ground, she outlined several recommendations, including that States support cultural cooperatives and employ cultural technology to promote higher living standards.
SIVARAM RAM CHELLURI, International Committee for Peace and Reconciliation, said inequality has historically given rise to tensions, conflicts, wars, slavery and mutual destruction. Communities today should avoid those pitfalls by socializing with one another, he said, stressing that education should be provided universally and tailored to the needs of each student. A society without social exclusion, where knowledge is free for all and where peace prevails, is now a distinct possibility; however, achieving that goal requires outreach to all.
MAURICE ALI, International Association of Independent Journalists Inc., outlined the results of a recent experiment, which revealed that striving for the greatest expression of human ability “makes us happy” and conversely that social exclusion restricts such expression and happiness. Those results have been published under the name “A Positive Major Mandate for Humanity at the United Nations”, he said, urging delegates to further explore that proposal and to consider it as a future theme for the Commission’s work.
MAIK DUNNBIER, IOGT International, highlighted alcoholism as a barrier to human capital development and as destroying the fabric of society. Homes often become the most dangerous place due to violence caused by alcoholism. He urged the United Nations to help Member States introduce alcohol taxes.
ELIZABETH DEFEIS, Fraternite Notre Dame, underscored the need to restore a sense of charity in society. These days, society has become so selfish and put aside by charitable missions. Any person should be able to be fully developed and enjoy the fruit of their labour. Every person has a neighbour in need.
SOFIA ROMEO, Concepts of Truth, said poverty does not mean just a lack of income. Multidimensional poverty exists in people’s lives, including through a lack of access to various services and opportunities. Poverty includes “emotional poverty.” For society to be sustainable, individuals must achieve personal sustainability.