The Commission has been in session since February 7 exploring the theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” Some concepts stand out – sustainable livelihoods, well-being, dignity, eradicating poverty and hunger. The GSIJP Office has been engaging with the theme since late July 2021 when I attended the Expert Group Meeting. Alexis Schutz prepared our written statement to the Commission SEE reflecting on the global situation, focusing on solutions and making recommendations. Throughout the year we were engaging with the NGO Committee for Social Development and contributed to the Civil Society Declaration with it’s 10 calls to action linked with the theme. This Declaration has been signed and supported by several Good Shepherd Representative in various countries and programs throughout the world. It was Ernestine Lalao, NGO Designate in Madagascar who mobilized in Africa for a webinar on the Commission and the Civil Society Declaration.
The Chair of the Commission H.E. Ms. María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina has been firm in her challenge to the Commission asking time and again to hear about practical solutions to ending poverty, and hunger, utilizing decent work grounded in dignity of each person. The Vice Chair Mr. Stefano Guerra of Portugal asked for concrete examples that are being implemented and effective at the Multi-Stakeholders Forum Panel on Thursday morning. Concept Note
The Commission together with NGO’ call for a new ‘Social Summit’ and a ‘New Social Contract’. You might well be asking what do these terms mean? The first Social Summit was held in Copenhagen in 1995, the same year that the 4th World Conference on Women took place in Beijing. The Declarations are visionary and principled, accompanied with concrete action towards implementation and realization. In the intervening 27 years the vision and dream remain largely unfulfilled for most of the world’s population. While there had been significant progress in eradicating poverty prior to the pandemic but today the number of people living in extreme poverty are as high as they were in the 90’s. The roll out of social protection programmes during the pandemic proved to be effective. They show and demonstrate that access to social protection – a government provision for all the people – was indeed helpful. Today, there are fears of a return to austerity measures while some few people, companies, and corporations amass huge and unseemly profits in a time of immense global suffering. This is further evidenced in the lack of political will to roll
The social contract of the 20th century was an attempt to equalize relations between capital and labour and aimed to institutionalize social rights for citizens largely in industrialized countries grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The contract started to fail in the 1970s with the development of neoliberal policies and globalization. A new report of the UN Secretary General “Our Common Agenda” references and elaborates both the New Social Contract and the Social Summit. The social contract envisions a new global deal to deliver global public good. An UNRISD publication explains more about the ‘New Eco-Social Contract”. The Social Summit is proposed for 2025, 30 years after Copenhagen – a global deliberation as it were to live up to the values, including trust and listening that are the basis of a social contract. Gender equality, care of the planet, the roll out of social protection floors, and full implementation of the 2030 agenda are front and center in the social contract. The mobilization of people to engage in both processes are critical to success. Juan Somavida, Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee in the lead up to the first World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen in 1995 says that the process of the ‘New Social Summit’ is as important, if not more important, than the outcome.
On Thursday February 10 I was able to ask a question at the Multi-Stakeholder Forum “How ensure ethical and rights based approaches to honour people’s dignity and implement human rights – Listen or Read
On Tuesday 15 Alexis delivered our oral statement to the Commission during the general discussion.
We prepared a written Statement to the Commission
The commission ended on Wednesday 16 with the adoption of a resolution by consensus on the priority theme “Inclusive and resilient recovery from COVID-19 for sustainable livelihoods, well-being and dignity for all: eradicating poverty and hunger in all its forms and dimensions to achieve the 2030 Agenda.” We as NGO’s are happy to read Para 25 “Encourage Member States to facilitate the meaningful participation and empowerment of those in vulnerable situations, including those living in poverty, in the design, implementation and monitoring of COVID-19 recovery plans.” While the resolution was adopted by consensus, there are a few sentences that led some Member States to state their opinions and concerns e.g Para 26 “…empowering all people and facilitating the social inclusion and participation of those who face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination;” or “…especially for women and girls who experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence…” The 3rd pillar of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action – the first Social Summit elaborates ‘Social Inclusion’ together with Poverty Eradication and Full Employment and Decent Work. Despite the intervening years we are still struggling with ‘discrimination’ against certain groups of people including women and girls. Indeed it is the challenge for all of us – how cultivate a mindset of inclusion of every person.