Continuing to reflect on the Commission for Social Development

Reading from Mark Gospel 8:1-8 on Saturday February 10, I was struck by the feeding of the people and was reminded of words quoted by the Chair of the Commission María del Carmen Squeff of Argentina ‘we need to be kind when thinking of each others’ suffering’. Response to suffering is not a platform but an action. These phrases echo Jesus’ words ‘I feel sorry for all these people, they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get these people enough bread to eat in a deserted place.’ Ched Myres (“Binding the Strong Man: a Political reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus”) notes that the response of the disciples was one of despair in the wilderness. There were outside of the dominant social order and it’s markets. How can one find resources to feed the hungry? I felt myself pulled into the suffering of people experiencing increased hunger and malnutrition throughout the world because of ‘desert like conditions’ due to COVID pandemic, climate change, displacement, ongoing conflict, mining, deforestation, some traveling distances to leave behind oppression and extreme poverty as migrants and refugees vulnerable to being trafficked.

Often we (you and I) feel desperation in attempting to make a response in the midst of these situations. People are being exploited by today’s markets, with patents, profits and monopolies ruling to the exclusion of people and care of the planet. In the midst of the situation Jesus asks ‘How many loaves have you?’ Immediately my mind jumped back to our Chapter and a morning prayer reflection which challenged us ‘FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ inviting us to a mindset of abundance which can be contrasted with a mindset of scarcity. Resources are within and among us. We have the 7 loaves. These loaves symbolize resources, good stewardship, co-responsibility, capacities and a culture of justice. As I continue to reflect I realize more and more that the policy issues pursued by the GSIJP Office are from a mindset of abundance – national floors of social protection, inclusion of all, gender justice, ending all forms of exploitation, climate justice, sustainable livelihoods, food and decent work – in collaboration with like-minded NGO’s and the ‘Gospel Space’ within the United Nations, the Commission for Social Development in this case.

Ched Myres comments that in the organizing of the people there is a superabundant result. “FEED THEM YOURSELVES’ is possible through the organization of the people. Everyone shares their resources, all the people are listened to and empowered to act for change. There is an upholding of human dignity, recognizing each person’s inalienable human rights, encouraging participation, voice and action. There is one paragraph in the Resolution from the Commission on the priority theme Paragraph 25 Encourages 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.” The feeding of the people includes building peoples’ self-esteem, unleashing the capacity of the people themselves to bring about the change that is required. We declare that our programmes have moved from a ‘charity model’ to a ‘right-based’ approach. How open are we to engaging the participants themselves in the design, implementation and monitoring of our multiple projects and programmes? We have good practice from our experiences with girls for the Day of the Girl activities.

February 20 was Social Justice Day – “Change means more than charity and occasional service. Two
strands of practice must intersect in us to establish justice for permanent change. First and obviously, we have to create relationships, institutions and communities ruled by just practices. Second, and perhaps equally obvious, we need to change ourselves” from Just Prayer: A Book of Hours for Peacemakers and Justice Seekers.

The resulting resolution recommended that the Economic and Social Council urge Member States to address multiple causes of poverty, hunger and inequality by creating decent work, improving coherence between social protection, food security and nutrition policies, and prioritizing investment in early childhood education, nutrition and care to break intergenerational poverty. “Sustainable agricultural production, food security, food safety and nutrition are key elements for the eradication of poverty in all its forms,” the Commission emphasized through the text.

The priority theme of the sixty-first session is “Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In the tradition of the Commissions at the UN one closes and the following one is immediately opened.

Commission for Social Development – just completed – February 7 – 16, 2022

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.

Alexis was asked to send a video recording which was played during the session. Read the text.

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.

A New Publication – A Good Shepherd Practitioners Understanding of Girls Rights’ Attainment – A review of rights realization by girls in Asia Pacific

A new publication entitled ‘A Good Shepherd Practitioners Understanding of Girls Rights’ Attainment – A Review of Rights Realization by Girls in Asia Pacific‘ is now available in French and Spanish. We acknowledge the work of the various provinces in Good Shepherd Asia Pacific who contributed to this report and to Australia New Zealand for facilitating the research. We are ever grateful to the translators at the GSIJP Office who ensured that we now have it in French and Spanish.

The English publication was launched on July 31, 2021. The Launch was recorded on YouTube How fascinating to have girls presenting the research and interviewing the researcher! Truly, girls are our partners-in-mission advocating for their rights at all levels. On the International Day of the Girl – October 11, Fatema the hostess of July 31st, also facilitated the ‘Girls Speak Out’ on UN Web TV modeling girls rights’ attainment.

Happy New Year of 2022!

COP 26 – The Glasgow Meeting on Climate Change

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. It is being held in the city of Glasgow, Scotland, between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the co-presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy. The president of the Conference is Alok Sharma and Minister of State at the Cabinet Office since 2021. COP26 is seen as the most important international climate meeting since 2015, when the world adopted the Paris Agreement to hold global warming to below 1.5°C at best and well below 2°C at the worst. Veronica Brand, a Sister of the Sacred Heart of Mary at the UN is quoted as saying “COP 26 needs to be an inflection point in terms of care of our common home” Read more “Catholic groups outline priorities ahead of Glasgow COP26 climate change summit: from NCR October 22, 2021. See also 5 reasons why Catholics should care about the COP26 climate summit from October 15, 2021. Reason #3 Catholic social teaching is on the table, especially for people living in poverty. Veronica continues “name a principle of Catholic social teaching — from the dignity of every person, to solidarity and workers’ rights — and you will find it relates to the discussions at COP26. With the impact of climate change, we are talking about action on behalf of justice. … We are talking about lives being threatened. We’re talking about livelihoods and the dignity of those who are most marginalized.”

Our position paper on Intergal Ecology calls to be be activety engaged in processess like COP 26. How are you engaging at a personal, community, country level. Have you supported statements calling for action? Are you engaging in social media – Twitter, Facebook or Instgram? Do you plan to find updates from the conference on a daily basis? Every point listed below is applicable to COP 26.

This is the link to the Conference Website which has lots of information.

Earlier in October of this year the Vatican had a meeting entitles ‘Religion and Science towards COP 26. The video contains a reading the agreed document and you can read more HERE

So much of what is put forth echoes deeply with our position paper and I include the action point from the paper on Economic Justice for your consideration also.


Leading on from this I want to bring your attention to a ‘Feminist Agenda for People and Planet.’ The Feminist Economic Justice for People & Planet Action Nexus is led by four key partners—who also serve as co-leads for two of the Action Coalitions on economic justice and on climate justice:. The document brings together Economic Justice and Climate Jusitice, focusing on two of the action coalitions coming from Beijing+25 and Generation Equality Forum. The Agenda lays out 6 principles

(i) An economy that shifts from the disproportionate emphasis on being productive economy into a feminist decolonial green new economy
(ii) An economy that puts the primacy of human rights and well-being of the planet over the primacy of growth and GDP
(iii) An economy that promotes an equitable and just global trade order
(iv) An economy that redistributes wealth and resources
(v) An economy that promotes debt justice and a new structure of sovereign debt
(vi) A global economic governance architecture that is democratic

The document can be accessed HERE I invite you to comment in the Comments Box linking what you are reading here with what you are hearing about COP 26 from your country perspctive, in social media and other outlets. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was launched in August 2021, the Secretary General of the United Nations said it was a ‘code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable:  greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.  Global warming is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible. … If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.  But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.  I count on Government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.’ READ MORE Will your Government work to ensure that COP26 is a success? Reporting from the BBC may give you insights into why Conferences might not be as effective as we would want – indicating that contrary forces are at work!

Date of the Biodiveristy Conference (COP 15) has been rescheduled

The United Nations announced new dates for the COP 15 Conference due to the continual impacts of COVID 19 around the world.

READ MORE

The Conference is about producing a ‘Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.’ A first draft is available. The vision of the framework is a world of living in harmony with nature. The framework has four long term goals see page 5 of the draft and continues with 21 Targets. The framework is a fundamental contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Develpment. At the same time, progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals will help to create the conditions necessary to implement the framework. Goal B refers to meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing. This is further elaborated in Targets 9 – 13 on page 7.

Resources to help you enter the Season of Creation? Sept 1 – Oct 4, 2021

The 2021 theme for the Season of Creation is ‘A Home for All? Renewing the Oikos of God.’ A celebration guide has been prepared by the eccumencial steering committee in 6 lnguages including French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian It is accessible ENGLISH, FRENCH, SPANISH, PORTUGUESE, and ITALIAN. While the guide is a rich resource covering prayer opportunities and actions there are some advocacy points on page 17 that maybe of interest to you. There is refererence to COP 15 October 11 – 24 Convention on Boidiversity where the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will be negotiated in light of the global community failing to reach the Aichi targets on biodiversity management set ten years ago. The second meeting from 1-12 November 2021 is COP26 on climate change where new national commitments to tackle the climate crises under the Paris Agreement are due to be delivered.

The Ecumenical Prayer Service for the Season of Creation is pages 25 – 32 followed by an Earth Examen – Rich resources for every and communities to use. Pages 37 to the end is a themed lectionary for the Sundays within the season of creation. Below is the logo featuring Abraham’s tent which symbolizes “a home for all.”

Moving Forward with the Laudato Si’ Action Platform
a webinar presented by Sowing Hope for the Planet, June 9, 2021

“Sowing Hope for the Planet” is a project in which every Sister whose congregation is a member of UISG, and their connections are provided with an opportunity to make a difference in our care of the planet. This project is a collaborative effort of the JPIC Commission in the name of UISG and theGlobal Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM).  During this webinar Winifred Doherty presented the “Integral Egcology’ Position Paper of the congregation. French and Spanish. Starts at 1:15:44

The Laudato Si Movement promoting “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition is inviting you to tell world leaders how they should care for our common home later this year. The two COP Conferences (Conferences of the Parties), are COP 15 on biodiversity and COP 26 on climate change.

Sign the Petition

Our postion paper on “Integral Ecology’ calls on us to engage on all levels and to advocate locally and internationally, to study and apply documents such as Laudato Si, and the The Earth Charter, and to admit our complicity in perpetuating dualistic and domineering attitudes about the earth. We understand that reconciliation with our earth calls for a new consciousness, a new identity, and new behaviors centered on the kinship of all creation and the implementation of human rights for all. Interdependence demands inclusion of all – non-living and living, non-human and human – without discrimination.

Want to learn more about the UN Biodiversity Conference. The 5th Global Diversity Outlook report was recently published and available in multiple languages HERE. This Outlook draws on the lessons learned during the first two decades of this century to clarify the transitions needed if we are to realize the vision agreed by world governments for 2050, ‘Living in Harmony with Nature’. SDG 15 has a target of halting the lost of biodiversity and integrating biodiversity values into national and local planning (15.5 and 15.9)

Keeping our Pledge to End Child Labour by 2025

For July, we are providing an account from our Good Shepherd Partners in Lebanon showing the ugly face of child labour. We read of the dire situation of families and their children and the work undertaken in collaboration with Wells of Hope in the Middle East in the fight to end human trafficking. Nayiri, a social worker, in creating awarenss of adult rights in relation to human trafficking encounters many children who are engaged in labour. She addresses some of the consequences in counselling session and by offering social support. It pains me everytime I read ‘that trafficking in children is a ‘worst form of child labour’. This is a way of sanitising the violence of child sexual abuse. It is not labour it is violence! As long as conflict continues, profiteers continue to violate human rights, and governments fails in their duty to protect the human rights of people, implement universal child benefits and social protection, people seeking to survive are targets of exploiters.

Graphic in Arabic is done by one of our team members at Wells of Hope. 

Generation Equality Fourm – What Now?

The Forum outlined a 5-year action journey built around a Global Acceleration Action Plan, a global road map for gender equality that aims to fulfil the promise of the Beijing Platform for Action and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. It involves every sector of society – governments, civil society, private sector, entrepreneurs, trade unions, artists, academia and social influencers – to drive urgent action and accountability.  The Global Acceleration Action Plan is only available in English.

This is an important document – the Leadership Structure of the Action Coalitions – Action Coaliton Leadership Structure to help you navigate what might be happening. Do you hear of the Action Coalitions in your news media? What steps is your Government taking to implement the various Action Coalitions? What are NGO’s doing in your country? The GSIJP Office is delighted that Good Shepherd in India, Philippines and Madagascar facilitated and accompanied girls and young women to attend the forum. We had girls from Chenni, India who participated in the drafting of the girls’ letter to world leaders, who were joined by girls from the Philippines in finanising the letter which was published just prior to the Fourm. The Girls’ Open Letter is in 4 languages English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

To create transformative action in the fight for gender equality, girls must be included in conversations AND final drafts!

Two of the youth advocate representatives who attended the Generation Equality Forum are from Madagascar – Sabrinah, 19 years old, who studied law and has a Master two, from U.C.M Ambatoroka MADAGASCAR and Avotra, 20 years old, who is studying Economics, 5th year at the University ANKATSO, Madagascar. They attended the virtual forum with Sr Ernestine Lalao, the NGO Regional Designate for RIMOA and have shared their rich experiences in French which has been translated into English

Research Launch “A Good Shepherd Practitioner Understanding of Girls Rights’ Attainment – A Review of Rights Realisation by Girls in Asia Pacific.”

On July 31, 2021 Good Shepherd Asia Pacific launched a research entitled ‘“A Good Shepherd Practitioner Understanding of Girls Rights’ Attainment – A Review of Rights Realisation by Girls in Asia Pacific.”  The launch was livestreamed on YouTube and gives an excellent insight into the contents of the document. The session was hosted and moderated by girls from India and Philippines and how skillfully they interviewed the authors of the research – Theresa Symons and Lily Gardener. Girls from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines and India also shared their hopes and dreams for their future via video recordings. This research document should be considered a foundational document along side the position papers to be read in conjunction with the paper on the Girl Child. Do check out the recommendation on page 30. Another very helpful piece of information is on page 12, 3.4 The Global COVID-19 Pandemic and the girl child which notes the resurgance of extreme poverty. The gains made over the past decades to ensure that all girls have access to quality education, health care and justices systems are under threat. It further noted that globally 222 million girls in total, have been unable to access remote learning due to the schools shutting down. This is the reason that the International Day of the Girl is taking up that specific theme in October ‘Digital Generation. Our Generation’.

Access the Full Report. Enjoy the YouTube recording of the launch. The Asia Pacific Theme Songs for IDG 2020 opened the session and snippets from the Musical Euphrasia were incorporated as it was the birthday of St Mary Euphrasia. Towards the end all participants enjoyed some funtime and games. Well done Girls of Asia Pacific! We are proud of you!