8 February 2018
CSocD Addresses Inequality of Vulnerable Populations
UN Photo/Lily Solmssen
story highlights

The Commission for Social Development underscored the need to protect people from poverty, natural disasters and conflict and to focus on helping vulnerable groups to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

The Commission forwarded four draft resolutions to ECOSOC, including a draft resolution on the Commission’s future organization and methods of work that agrees CSocD will consider a single priority theme each year.

The 2019 priority theme will be ‘Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies’.

30 January 2018: The 56th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD 56) called for efforts to accelerate inclusive and equitable economic growth and sustainable development to ensure that no one is left behind. It also supported a focus on helping vulnerable groups to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Commission agreed on four draft resolutions, which will be forwarded to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

CSocD 56 convened from 29 January-7 February 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The Commission focused on the theme, ‘Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all’ and addressed both the drivers of poverty and recommendations to tackle poverty.

In opening remarks, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed welcomed achievements in reducing extreme poverty, providing access to health care and education and promoting the empowerment of women, youth, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities and older persons. She cautioned, however, that progress on extreme poverty remains uneven “across regions, within countries and between various social groups.” She underscored the need to address such inequality and unemployment and underemployment among the world’s youth.

On poverty, the Commission discussed the role of strategies for poverty eradication in achieving sustainable development for all. Egypt for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) stressed that eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions “remains the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development.” Equatorial Guinea for the African Group said 390 million Africans remain “mired in extreme poverty,” despite commitments to eradicate poverty. Participants recognized the role of natural disasters, conflicts, civil unrest and economic slow-downs in driving poverty.

On social protection, many supported both universal health care (UHC) and social services for all. Mohammed said 45% of the people around the world who need social protection have access to only one benefit. She called for social policies and protection that ensure everyone shares the benefits of economic growth and globalization.

Liu Zhenmin, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, observed that many people remain at risk of falling back into poverty if impacted by a disaster, illness, job loss or lack of social protection. He recommended developing a comprehensive and integrated socioeconomic policy framework. A representative from Malawi shared his country’s cash transfer programme and holistic approach to implementing the SDGs.

On vulnerable populations, participants advocated for prioritizing the rights of older persons, youth, rural people and others in special situations. The International Federation of Associations of the Elderly said elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of disasters and impacts from conflicts and wars, and recommended managing older populations’ post-traumatic stress from such crises. The International Relations Students’ Association of McGill University, Canada, the only student‑run group that has consultative status with ECOSOC, called for taking youth voices into account in decisions on environmental change, energy, food security and migration.

Many participants echoed this call for the participation of youth in decision-making, stressing that youth can help to advance the 2030 Agenda and play a role in improving the use of science, technology and innovation (STI) and increasing transparency. Others highlighted: the importance of investments in early childhood education; the role of risk management and insurance in building resilience, especially in the context of climate change and natural disasters; and the potential of access to information and communications technology (ICT) in increasing the independence of persons with disabilities or older persons with mobility challenges.

On UN reform, Mohammed observed that the Commission can support the UN Secretary-General’s current efforts to reposition the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda. She said the Commission’s resolution on its methods of work can support these efforts, and emphasized the Commission’s continued role as a space for policy debate and exchange of experiences.

CSocD 56 agreed on a draft resolution on the Commission’s future organization and methods of work. By the text, governments decide that the Commission will focus on a single priority theme at each future session, leading to an action-oriented resolution with recommendations to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The resolution proposes the 2019 priority theme of ‘Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.’

The resolution titled, ‘Third review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002′ (document E/CN.5/2018/L.3), recognizes the contribution of older persons to implementing the SDGs, and encourages States to consider the health, care and well-being of older persons in their national SDG implementation. The Commission further agreed on resolutions on: ‘Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development’ (document E/CN.5/2018/L.4); and ‘Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.’

Four high-level panel discussions convened throughout CSocD 56, including a high-level panel that discussed evidence-based mainstreaming of disability in the 2030 Agenda. Another high-level panel focused on the UN Secretary-General’s report on the Madrid review on aging. The report identifies trends and obstacles to implementation of the Plan around the world. Other panel discussions addressed sustainable and resilient societies, including the role of technology for social need and social good, and of innovative ICT in the 2030 Agenda. The Commission also discussed a report on poverty eradication, reviewing progress on and discussing country strategies to implement SDG 1 (no poverty).

ECOSOC President Marie Chatardová noted that the Commission’s discussions on eradicating poverty will contribute to the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). [Meeting Website] [UN Press Release on CSocD Opening] [Deputy Secretary-General Opening Remarks] [UN Meeting Coverage, 29 January] [UN Meeting Coverage, 30 January] [UN Meeting Coverage, 31 January] [UN Meeting Coverage, 1 February] [UN Meeting Coverage, 5 February] [UN Meeting Coverage, 7 February] [DESA Press Release, 8 February] [E/CN.5/2018/3] [E/CN.5/2018/2] [E/CN.5/2018/4] [A/73/61-E/2018/4] [E/CN/5/2018/5]

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