Commission for Social Development February 10 – 19, 2020

The annual Commission for Social Development will take place from February 10 – 19, 2020 in New York. This is the 58th session and marks 25 years since the Social Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995. The outcome of the Social Summit was contained in a document entitled ‘The Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for Action’ In brief it contained 3 Pillars – (i) Poverty Eradication, (ii) Full Employment and Decent Work, (iii) Social Inclusion, 10 Commitments, and put PEOPLE at the center of development. The Priority theme this year is Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.

The Secretary General has prepared a report on the theme – English, French, Spanish, Arabic It is 19 pages. There are some interesting point of information. Recent trends show that housing has become the single largest household expenditure and has become less affordable (paragraph 7) and the younger generation (20 – 34 years old) are facing increasing difficulties in becoming homeowners. Homelessness is a global problem in developing and developed countries. There is an interesting section on Drivers of Homelessness as a structural issue; (Paragraphs 16 – 24) The reports notes that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children under personal and family circumstances. Is domestic violence, divorce, separation, and abandonment a personal and family circumstance or a structural issues? Two global issues today causing homelessness are climate change and conflict.

Strategies to address homelessness are two fold: – provide affordable housing (paragraphs 33 – 48) and social protection (paragraphs 49 – 53). The Commission for Social Development focuses on specific social groups and thus there are suggested policies to address challenges faced by these specific groups – family, persons with disabilities, youth, older persons, and indigenous peoples. The reports concludes with some recommendations paragraph 72 (a) to (h)

Opportunities to engage with the Commission for Social Development are through written statements, oral statements and in Side Events. The Good Shepherd written statement to the Commission has just been published on the Commissions’s Website. (French; Spanish.) Some structural issues, raised in the SG’s report are elaborated in the statement – commodification of housing and the financialization of housing projects promoted by financial institutions in the name of public-private partnerships. These are antithetical to the provision of affordable housing.

This graphic from OXFAM illustrates the structural and systemic issues confronting us – growing inequality, commodification even of people, financialization of public good and services

“When confronted by such realities, we are decidedly on the side of people and planet, particularly those who live the experience of multi-dimensional poverty, lack access to social protection and social services, and are excluded from financial services, yet show resilience in the face of homelessness and marginalization. Our ministries are undertaken in the context of upholding and addressing the human rights of girls, women and children in the absence of policy and/or public goods and services to ensure their most basic needs and inclusion. Through innovative learning and new approaches, global advocacy on social protection floors, capacity building, education and empowerment, Good Shepherd ministries on the ground seek to implement services and programmes including financial inclusion, and empowerment in the context of family and local community. ” The statement was supported by the following organizations.

In writing the statement we referenced the work of Good Shepherd Microfinance, Australia. The Financial Action Plan report of June 2019 noted that safe and secure housing is a key factor influencing positive social outcomes. Sharing two life experiences – one from Honduras and one from India – illustrate what financial resilience looks like, and feels like. (Bottom of page 2 and top of page 3). Addressing multidimensional poverty and social inclusion is not about people aspiring for a place in the global financial markets or seeking ‘handouts’, but women and families seeking sufficiency, well-being and security in the face of global processes that exploit through advertising, marketing, the undercutting of wages, the continuance of the gender pay gap and lack of recognition of women’s unpaid care work. Affordable housing and social protections systems for all in collaboration with local initiatives can only strengthen human dignity and human well-being to create as outlined in Commitment 1 of the World Summit for Social Development, “an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development.”

Read more about the Commission for Social Development . Join the social media campaign from now until February 19 – retweet, share, like and comment on the content concerning homelessness. Facebook and Twitter #csocd58 #endhomelessness #SDG’s #LeaveNoOnebehind #Solidarity #TogetherStronger

Attended – Special Meeting on “Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all” May 23, 2018

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On May 23 the President of ECOSOC H.E. Marie Chatardová, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic, held a Special Meeting entitle “Towards sustainable, resilient and inclusive societies through participation of all.”   Here is  the Agenda for the meeting.  I was privileged to have Joan Wu accompany me to this meeting. It was a full day.  The panelists were excellent and provided a wide range of perspectives and suggestions.  See who’s who in the  Biographies of the various panelists.  The ones that interested me most were H.E. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations.  I liked her capturing of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as ‘an agenda of the people, by the people and for the people, and it is an agenda to be achieved with the people.’  To conclude Her Excellency said  ‘The 2030 Agenda needs the participation of all actors to ensure no one is left behind and that all can enjoy prosperity, dignity and opportunity in a world of peace.  Let us, therefore, join our efforts for a sustainable, resilient and inclusive future.’   A summary of Session 2 and 3 can be read HERE   If you prefer see and hear the WEBCAST   I added to the discussion see marker 1:18 focusing on ‘leave no one behind.’  “Many of the people whom Good Shepherd represents are outside the political arena.  Until such time as we address the divide that exists between this meeting here this morning and the people I represent in these countries,  whom I say are outside of the political arena,  I don’t think we will have movement and progress because of  growing inequality,  threat of conflicts, climate change and disasters, as some of the panelists have already noted.   We have to walk the talk by putting the resources at the most vulnerable, most excluded groups and bringing them into the political arena to talk about how they wish to participate and what can be done in these situation.  They work in groups in terms of their own empowerment but are not contributing to local and national development.   I would like to raise this issue this morning in the light of moving forward.  Thank you.”

Michale Shank the moderator of panel two offered 7 c’s with regard to citizen participation and community engagement.  Tactic (1 and 2);  Objective (3 and 4);  Process (5)  and Results (6 and 7)

  • campaign mode
  • crowd-sourcing – not merely using internet
  • consensus building
  • community wide engagement
  • communication – not PR or selling but reflecting back what the community is doing so the feel part of the process
  • concrete commitment
  • conflict prevention

Do you know about participatory budgeting?   This was presented by Francesco Tena.  Check out Participatory Budgeting

  • money that matters
  • grassroots leadership
  • inclusive design
  • targeted outreach
  • equity criteria.

What is e-governance and e-participation?  Listen to Dr Aroon Manoharan.

Session 4 was in the afternoon – a good opportunity to hear Andrew Gilmore,  Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Head of New York OHCHR Office.  Human Rights are paramount.  Session 4   I was interested to know that sometimes Parliaments don’t know about ‘Voluntary National Reviews’ (VNR’s) and it was noted by Tomáš Rákos that participation would be much more robust if quality civic education was imparted to all coupled with the existence of trust between people and government!    2018 ECOSOC 10

Toward the end of this panel Margaret O’Dwyer,  Daughters of Charity were able to share SEE

Glimpses of NGO’s during the Commission for Social Development

Get a glimpse of NGO issues during the Commission on Social Development during the NGO Briefings.

NGO Briefing Wednesday February 3

NGO Briefing Thursday February 4 – Marker 14:50 and 25.28

NGO Briefing Friday February 5

NGO Briefings  Monday February 8  Marker 31.50

NGO Briefing Tuesday February 9  Marker 11.43

Do listen to the exhortation of  Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to the Commission on Social Development on Monday February 8th.  “Economy at the service of people”  secretary-general Feb 8 CSocD

Conference Room 4 during the Commission, GSIJPO Team, NGO CSocD Logo, and consultations

Access to the various session of the Commission can be accessed HERE  To date there have been 9 sessions.  The Commission started on Wednesday February 3, 2o16

Social Development

” … Almost 40 years later, on 3-12 February 2016, CSocD will meet again under the Romanian chairmanship and, as Ambassador of Romania to the UN, I will chair this 54th session. The reform of the UN social sector is once more on its agenda, this time in the context of implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted last September. After all, as the UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson remarked a few days ago: “Development is a work in progress. Development is never finished”.   Read more here


H.E. Mr. Ion Jinga Ambassador of Romania to the UN (center) is chair of the 5 member-state bureau of the Commission for Social Development.  There other members are Mr. Andreas Glossner (designate) Germany; Ms. Amina Smaila. Nigeria;  Luz Andujar, Dominican Republic; and Mr. Mohammad Hassani Nejad Pirkouhi (designate) Islamic Republic of Iran.

For each Commission the Secretary General prepares a report on the theme of the Commission.  For the 54th session the theme is ‘Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world‘  It is in Spanish, English, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian.

There are 5 sections including Introductions and Conclusions and Recommendations.

Section 2:  Social Policies for sustainable development has two subsections.

  • A. Supporting a people-centered, inclusive, and integrated 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and
  • B. Eradicating poverty, promoting equality and decent work and respecting human rights.
    • A universal policy framework centered on social justice, inclusion and participation. 2
    • Promoting inclusion through special, targeted measures.

Principles and values are well enunciated – people-centered, inclusive, integrated, equality, human rights, and social justice.  However, the challenge is how to close the gap between the values and the reality.  One mechanism that Good Shepherd is supporting is the implementation of National Floors of Social Protection reference in Paragraph 19 as one example of a concrete action, and it is achievable but requires political will.  Such implementation Social protection floors is an intergal part of the right to social security coming form Article 22 of the Declaration on Human Rights .     Article 22  “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”  It is encouraging to read of the movement towards universal health coverage in Indonesia, Rwanda, Thailand and Vietnam.

  • C.  Promoting inclusive institutions and participation
  • D.  Social policies as a means for inclusive growth and environment protection.

Section 3 Strengthening coherent approaches to policymaking for sustainable development

This is a direct challenge to the silo approach focusing only one policy to the detriment of others.  The Secretary General report call for the aligning of macroeconomic policy frameworks with social and environmental goals. (Paragraph 34)  What could be the scenario in Kolwezi where the documentary  Maisha – A life outside the mines  was filmed if in the first instance macroeconomic policy was aligned with social and environmental goals?  Even today, how can the empowered people of Kolwezi move towards participation in decision making in all that affects the life of the community at the social, environmental and economic level, locally, nationally and internationally?  Maisha CSocD Side Event Concept Note (1)   The end of Paragraph 35 suggests that  social and environmental policies should be integrated into macroeconomic policy frameworks.  This, in my opinion is to continue with the same model that caused the problem in the first place.   Rather,  we should be attempting to integrate the macro-economic policy into robust social and environmental policy framework thus addressing ‘the underlying structural causes of development challenges’ (Paragraph 5).  Social injustice, environmental injustice, systemic exclusion, poverty and inequality are largely the results of dominant macro economic policy.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has the vision but do we have the will and the courage to implement it?

Section 4 Financing a social perspective on development  

Successful implementation of any policy requires sufficient and sustainable financing. Resources are in abundance.  There never appears to be shortage of resources for military operations.  The cleft between richness and poverty is gross.  A human rights framework underpins true social development with the principles of equity, social justice and solidarity that were the foundation of the World Summit for Social Development.

Some quotes from Laudato Si on Inequality

Para 48  The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation.

Para 49  … Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

Para 82  Yet it would also be mistaken to view other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination.  When nature is viewed solely as a source of profit and gain, this has serious consequences for society.  This vision of “might is right” has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up on the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all.  Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, and peace.

GSIJP Banner-2

Join me in the launch of a new website – Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors

When: – Tomorrow February 3rd at 12.00 noon local time

How:  Use your e-mail, website, facebook and twitter accounts

We are hoping for wide distribution and creation awareness.  Use these pictures when posting.  It is critical that there are strong indicators towards implementation of National Floors of Social Protection in the new Post 2015 sustainable development goals. Social Protection is a human right.  Living in extreme poverty is a violation of human rights.  Implementation of national floors of social protection could be a transformative catalyst towards human rights based, inclusive, and more equitable societies. But it takes daring and political will and it is a national issue!

SPF 1 SPF 2 SPF 3 SPF 4 SPF 5  Suggested Tweets for use with hash tags

  1. CSOs call for #SocialProtection4All in #post2015: visit our website @undesadspd @UN_NGO@post2015 @isabel__ortiz
  2. Discover our network, our activities to promote #SocialProtection4All at @UN_NGO @post2015 @isabel__ortiz
  3. 2015: time to make #SocialProtection4All a reality. @undesadspd @UN_NGO@post2015 @isabel__ortiz @MimicaEU

Some Reflection of Commission for Social Development 52nd Session

Today is the third day of the Commission for Social Development and despite yet another snow storm in New York the UN is open. Today’s agenda focuses on the United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups – persons with disabilities, youth, aging and the family.  It is the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.  If you are interested in following specifically any of these groups because your ministry is centered around building capacity and creating enabling and empowering environments for any of these groups please look at the Secretary Generals Reports as they relate to your specific social group.  You can access the documents here in English, Spanish and French.

Tomorrow Friday there will be a high level panel on the social drivers of sustainable development.  The concept note is in English, French and Spanish Concept note   A few points that I would like draw your attention to.  The new development agenda known as the ‘Post 2015 Development Agenda’ seeks the integration of  economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship. The discussion of sustainable development has tended to focus on environmental sustainability while neglecting the social dimension. Integration calls for clarifying what the social dimensions are and how they can be addressed.  The concept note in paragraph two refers to social conditions that influence processes of change.  Another term is ‘social drivers’.  What are these ‘social drivers’ in your experience?   They are social structures that shape people’s behavior and opportunities.  These social structures also affect the capacity of individuals and groups to influence change.   Social drivers are about how individuals and groups respond and adapt to circumstances, including how they cope and organize in defense of their interests or their rights. Remember the ‘Arab Spring’, or the ‘Occupy’ movement.  Yesterday I heard Mr Abdul-Kareem Al Eryani, former PM of Yemen, Club de Madrid Member remembering how the Arab Spring began in Tunisia which was one of the best countries in the region economically. Marginalized people were the leaders and women took a significant role.  There was a 10 month period of national dialogue.  Mr Abdul-Kareem Al Eryani noted that when human dignity is violated people are not content. Economic development without social development leads to conflict and tension.   The former Prime Minister went on to say that sustainable development must be balanced with good governance and implementation of human rights.  The Club of Madrid promote the idea of ‘shared societies’. Social development is as critical as economic development.  The mega programmes of the 20th century based on ‘trickle down effect’ to end poverty have not worked. People have not been empowered.

What about class, ethnicity, gender and location (rural vs urban) both informal and formal institutions, including the norms and values that pattern behaviour, and the way people and organizations interact in networks. Here I think back to the panel I moderated at the Civil Society forum and the experience shared my Mr. Jose Nunez  (See posting on February 11 and the presentation of Fabio Palacio posted on February 12)  Some tweets of February 11 quoting from Jose Nunez illustrate the point.  “Just accessing social protection can be disempowering because of ‘put downs’…  Giving people money is not enough …it’s not transformative… I believe that without empowerment we cannot end poverty…True empowerment is about how you carry yourself not how much you own… Empowerment is not about making more money or having more power than someone else.”

In our Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission for Social Development we quoted the following definition of empowerment “Empowerment happens when individuals and organized groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realize that vision by changing relations of power that have kept them in poverty, restricted their voice and deprived them of their autonomy.” (Rosalind Eyben’s paper in Pathways Policy Paper Brighton, 2011)  This definition places empowerment squarely in the minds and hearts of persons and communities living in poverty, seeking a proper balance between enhancing their own sense of agency and making the structural changes to institutions and policies that are needed for emancipation. What do you think of the three aspect of power, ‘power within’, ‘power to’, and ‘power with’ as elaborated in our statement?  How do we facilitate structural and systemic change?  Our direction statement of 2009 called us to  “confront unjust systems and take a “corporate stance” when appropriate.”

See paragraph 52 of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Click here Page 44 “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields.  We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications.  At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences.  A number of diseases are spreading.  The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even inn the so-called rich countries.  The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident.  it is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity.  This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.”

The commission for Social Development and the Post 2015 Development Agenda in its multiple discussions are desiring to analyze and  understand these ‘anonymous kinds of power’ that have created growing inequalities and the empowerment of peoples.

IMG_1967Read the statement of the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development (Margaret Mayce) to the Commission.  Access statement by clicking here  See in particular page 4 and I quote “In a globalized world too often driven by economic and financial engines, it is easy to lose sight of people, and of the Planet which serves as our one, common home.  When wealth and power are sought as ends unto themselves, there is a the danger that society can be reduced to a collection of nameless, faceless individuals, and the common good is reduced to fit the outcome achievable by private, for profit firms.   The market based approach to development has tended to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, while countless numbers of our brothers and sisters have seen their economic power, and their real power to influence decisions that affect their lives diminish.  In this regard we turn to the words of Pope Francis, who spoke of “the scandal of poverty in a world of plenty as a piercing moral challenge for the whole human community.”  He continues, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table…there must be a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill, or worse, promised which all to often have not been kept.” 

Commission for Social Development Opened on Tuesday morning.

The sessions are webcast and can be viewed Here   The Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development addressed the Commission.  Move the slider to 1.10 to hear the statement. If your prefer to read the document click here

The third session of the commission was a panel on the theme of ‘Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all’

The webcast is available here  Two panelists have provided their papers: one  Dr John Gaventa (Paper is here) and the second Mr Fabio Palacio of ATD 4th World.  Fabio’s presentation is a Powerpoint and will be of interest to all of us. Click here  If watching the webcast Dr Gaventa’s presentation begin at 1.01 on the slider and Fabio’s presentation continues.  

Does empowerment make a difference?  

How does this compare with the Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission on our ministry in DRC and empowering people … Read here  What do you think are the elements of an empowering environment?  Start a conversation by writing in the comment box.

NGO Committee for Social Development – Civil Society Forum

IMG_1952[1]The link to the webcast of the NGO Committee for Social Development Civil Society Forum – February 10, 2014 has been posted.  Following the official opening of the forum Winifred Doherty was moderator of the first panel on the priority theme      “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all“. This was a very interesting panel and you will hear much about the social protection floor.  Also listen to the presentation from Lilly John, Presentation Sister from India and to the third panelist Mr Jose Nunez speak about what empowerment is.

IMG_1936[1]      IMG_1938[1]     Civil society Forum 2014     IMG_1942


 IMG_1912       IMG_1911

After lunch there was a second panel focusing on women.  2nd panel   Do listen to Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Lakshmi lists the priority areas of UN Women  – ending violence against women, political participation and gender responsive budgeting and stated that gender equality is the biggest transformation that we must seek to achieve!  UN Women is calling for a transformative stand-alone goal on achieving gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment: Imperatives and key components in the new post 2015 development agenda. Access the full document here.

There is also a presentation on older women.  You might find this interesting.

The day ended with the adoption of the Civil Society Declaration.  Read the Civil Society Declaration

Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission on Social Development now published

The Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission for Social Development is now published in the 6 official languages of the United Nations .

N1357408 Statement Spanish CSocD RGS 2014                                        N1357404 Statement Chinese CSocD RGS 2014                                  N1357407 Statement Russian CSocD RGS 2014                                      N1357403 Statement Arabic CSocD RSG 2014                              N1357404 Statement Chineese CSocD RGS 2014                            N1357405 Statement English CSocD RGS 2014

The Priority theme of the Commission in 2014 is:                                   “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all“.

The Emerging issues: the social drivers of sustainable development.

Issues concerning special groups – Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Aging and Family will also be addressed.  For more information and the reports prepared for the Commission can be read HERE

Our statement references the work done in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a focus on empowerment of the local people.  The statement is identifying systems and structures of power that actually keep people in poverty and deny them access to decent work.

“Empowerment happens when individuals and organized groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realize that vision by changing the relations of power that have kept them in poverty, restricted their voice and deprived them of their autonomy.”  Read Duncan Greens background paper ”The role of the State in empowering poor and excluded groups and individuals” .   We are looking at the centrality of “power” to empowerment.  The statement ends with a question ‘have Governments the political will and determination to enter into dialogue with citizens in “power with” and “power to” making the structural changes to institutions and policies that promote the empowerment of people?

Please comment in the box provided

Empowering People for Social Change

Giving the poorest and most vulnerable the voice and tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty is key to bolstering efforts towards meeting global development goals, according to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on promoting people’s empowerment, the theme for the fifty-first session of the Commission on Social Development, taking place at United Nations Headquarters from 6 to 15 February, and for its Civil Society Forum tomorrow.   Read more …

Promoting empowerment of people will be at the core when the Commission for Social Development convenes for its 51st session. “Empowering individuals and social groups requires a comprehensive set of policies and institutions. From education and health care to economic and social policy, activities that seek to empower people are expected to increase opportunities and improve people’s quality of life”, said Ms. Larysa Belskaya, Vice-Chair of the Commission’s Bureau.   Read more…