Reducing inequalities: a key to social development in the contemporary word

When :

from Friday 6 February, 2015
to Friday 6 February, 2015

Type of event :

Category 7-Seminar and Workshop

Where :

UN General Assembly Hall, Conference Room A, New York, United States of America

Contact :

Cecilie Golden,

During the 53rd session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSocD), UNESCO's Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DSPD/UNDESA), and United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) are convening this side event. High-level speakers will contribute to the discussion on why tackling inequalities is essential for progress in social development in today’s world, providing social science findings and policy recommendations.

Inequality that exists in various forms in all countries is widely recognized as one of the key factors of disempowerment, preventing people from realising their potential in full.

As indicated in the Note of the UN Secretariat (E/CN/5/2015/6), on "Emerging issues: contributions of social development to the transition from the Millennium Goals to the sustainable development goals": "Seven out of 10 of the world’s people live in countries where income inequality has risen". As indicated by Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, UNDESA, Mr Wu Hongbo, during the last session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, inequalities undermine poverty reduction, economic growth and social mobility (cf. Report on the World Social Situation 2013 "Inequality matters").

In the same vein, the report of the UN Secretary-General "Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world" (E/CN.5/2015/3) notes that "in a general context of growing inequalities, exclusion among social groups remains significant".

In both these documents the need for social science is emphasized as an important element in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social policy policies, as they bring relevant inputs to social policy formulation.

In the Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General on the Post-2015 Agenda issued in December 2014, six essential elements for delivering on the sustainable development agenda are proposed, among them: "dignity: to end poverty and fight inequalities" and "justice: to promote safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions". Both of these elements are of high relevance to UNESCO's MOST Programme, UNDESA and UNRISD.

The representative of Her Excellency Ms Betty Tola, Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion of Ecuador, will present the outcome of the 10th Forum of Ministers of Social Development for Latin America, hosted by the Government of Ecuador, in October 2014, and organized in cooperation with UNESCO’s MOST Programme. This Forum focused mainly on overcoming inequalities. In the outcome Quito Declaration it was recognized that "over the past few years, the reduction of inequality has been the core goal of the public actions of governments and is a reality in most of the region’s countries". The initiatives and recommendations put forward by the meeting to reduce inequalities will also be discussed.

In addition, participants will also discuss possible steps aimed at moderating inequalities in global development.

Moderator: Mr Sergei Zelenev, Executive Director, International Council on Social Welfare

Representative of Her Excellency, Ms Alicia Kirchner, President of the MOST Intergovernmental Council and Minister of Social Development, Argentina (participation tbc).

Representative of Her Excellency Ms Betty Tola, the Minister of Economic and Social Inclusion of Ecuador and President of the Latin American Forum of Ministers of Social Development (tbc): the representative of Minister Tola will present the outcome of the X MOST Forum of Ministers of Social Development for Latin America, focusing on overcoming inequalities.

Ms Sarah Cook, Director, UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD): the focus of her intervention will be on what role social policies can play in reducing inequalities.

Ms Daniela Bas, Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, UNDESA: UNDESA will focus on the reduction of inequalities in the context of the Post-2015 Agenda, including the important role of social inclusion as a policy response.

Ms Cecilie Golden, Programme Specialist, UNESCO’s MOST Programme: UNESCO will present its activities to strengthen the social and human sciences knowledge-base to contribute to social justice and development supported by research findings, including the flagship activity - regional fora of ministers of social development.

Commentator: Professor Lynne Healy, Professor at the University of Connecticut and the Representative of the International Association of the Schools of Social Work to the UN.