Bolstering international cooperation in social development matters

The 62nd session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD62), was held from 5 th to 14 th February at the UN Headquarters in New York. The Commission, one of the functional Commissions of the Economic and Social Council, advises the Council and Governments on the social perspective of development.  It is the key United Nations body in charge of the follow-up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action.

The 62nd session of the Commission took place when the world is witnessing new conflicts, escalating climate change, a cost-of-living crisis, entrenched inequalities, rising poverty and widespread food insecurity. Addressing the priority theme of “Fostering social development and social justice through social policies to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to achieve the overarching goal of poverty eradication”, a number of delegates warned that recent years have witnessed reversals in some advancements, driven by a number of factors from the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change.

The Ministerial Forum held during the session considered the topic “How to improve mainstreaming of social considerations in development frameworks?”  Moderated by Commission Chair Ruchira Kamboj (India), the Forum had Government officials from different parts of the world sharing the challenges faced and lessons learned by their social welfare systems during recent crises, with consensus emerging on the importance of child welfare, decent work and care for ageing populations.

The international community’s multiple and simultaneous crises exacerbated inequality within and between countries, requiring a redoubling of efforts to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially in States that are facing particularly dire situations. Many delegates, senior United Nations Officials as well as civil society representatives underscored that the social, economic and environmental dimensions should be seen as inseparable aspects of contemporary socio-economic development. The ICSW, in the written statement submitted to the CSocD62, highlighted several of its priorities, policy concerns and proposals. The statement also underscores the significance of the Windhoek Declaration adopted at the end of September 2023 in the capital of Namibia, as part of the African regional meeting convened by ICSW to discuss local challenges and social policy priorities.

(The full text of the ICSW statement is available for download here.)

Inclusive economic growth is key to social development and poverty eradication, requiring policies and programmes created by collaboration, such as economists strategizing alongside mothers, corporate executives engaging with the unemployed and political leaders consulting youth, speakers told the Commission for Social Development. (The link to the video presentations is below).

Apart from the priority theme the CSocD62 focused on the emerging issue of "The Influence of Digital Transformation on Inclusive Growth and Development: A Path to Achieving Social Justice". As was noted in many statements the growing digital divide has intensified the challenges faced by vulnerable groups and current inequities in access to technologies while knowledge gaps exacerbate existing disparities in income, education, employment and access to housing and health services.

The Commission also commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family.

The Commission, acting by consensus on the final day of the session, approved and forwarded three resolutions and one draft decision to the Economic and Social Council for adoption — including one on recognizing and valuing the unacknowledged, unpaid work of caregivers.

The Commission approved without a vote the draft resolution titled “Promoting care and support systems for social development”. By its terms, the Council would urge States to ensure the creation of enabling environments for promoting care and support systems for social development and implement all measures necessary to ensure the well-being and rights of care recipients and caregivers, to recognize and redistribute care work among individuals, as well as families, communities, the private sector and States, and to contribute to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.

The Chair of the Commission introduced the draft decision regarding the priority theme of the next, 63rd session of the CSocD. By its terms, the Economic and Social Council would decide that the priority theme of the 63rd session of the Commission for Social Development shall be “Strengthening solidarity, social inclusion and social cohesion to accelerate the delivery of the commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development as well as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Dr Sergei Zelenev, Special Representative of ICSW to the United Nations