New York

31 January 2017

Secretary-General's Message to Civil Society Forum held in conjunction with the UN Commission for Social Development

[Delivered by Mr. Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs]

I am grateful to the NGO Committee for Social Development for organizing this Forum, and I thank all the civil society organizations that support and join this gathering each year. 
A strong civil society sector is central to advancing social progress.  The United Nations recognizes the value of your contribution and we remain committed to seeking your advice, expertise, support and partnership. 
Inclusive and sustainable development is the best way to prevent conflicts and crises and ensure equitable progress for all people everywhere.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we must address pervasive inequalities between communities, nations and regions.
Globalization and technological progress have helped to lift millions of people from poverty, but the benefits have not been shared equally.  Too many have been left behind, and unemployment and underemployment are serious challenges to peace and progress around the globe.
With rates of extreme poverty remaining high, social protection provides an essential means of support for the marginalized and disadvantaged.  Yet today, only one-third of people have adequate social security coverage.  More than half the population lacks any coverage at all.
Basic social services, such as healthcare and education, are essential for the well-being of people and societies.  With budgets under pressure in many countries, efforts by the private sector and civil society are especially important.  Your engagement is essential.
I wish you a productive Forum.