Civil Society Forum in preparation for the Commission on Social Development

The NGO Committee for Social Development held the Civil Society Form on the theme of ‘Poverty Eradication: Human Dignity Demands It!’ prefacing the 49th Session of the Commission for Social Development

While opening remarks by the community of experts both lamented and celebrated the co-existence of greater poverty and greater progress, it concluded this polarisation only served to highlight that the ‘System’ has failed. It has failed because it has increased inequality. It has failed because it does not generate descent work. And it has failed because it has destabilised global climate. However, H.E. Jorge Valero, Chairperson of the 49th Session of the Commission for Social Development echoed the many voices from the Forum in asserting a new economic model that is human-centred must be implemented. Jane Stewart, Director of the International Labour Organisation added that social development needs to link strongly with both economic and environmental development in order to truly commit to the eradication of poverty.

Martin Lees, International Affairs Expert recalled the words of Albert Einstein that “no problem can be solved in the same consciousness that created it”, which serves as a timely reminder that the advances that catalysed industrialized nations into
their current prosperity are no longer appropriate mechanisms to lift today’s least developed nations into economic stability. Mr Lees reminded us all that the impending catastrophic effects of climate change will bring food and water security to the point that civilisation as we know it will be compromised; poignantly citing that “nature will not wait; it is indifferent to the fate of
humanity”. However, he provided us with the hopeful truth that it is also humanity that can prevent this catastrophe if we reframe our current economic systems of growth, accept, anticipate and mitigate the environmental reality, embrace the
positive potential of globalisation to undo the inequality it created and place a strong emphasis on women in the economy.

In the afternoon, our own Good Shepherd NGO Representative, Sr Winifred Doherty artfully facilitated a very dynamic and thought-provoking workshop on microfinance, featuring Caroljean Willie from ‘Microfinancing Partner in Africa’, Inez Murray
from ‘Women’s World Banking’ and Susan Saiyorri from ‘Jamii Bora,’ Kenya’s largest microfinancing institution. Susan roused the room with her exclamation “the poor are bankable!” and inspired us with her story of how Jamii Bora grew from 50 street beggars to more than 300,000 members in eleven years.

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