This session will focus on broad policy directions to strengthen social development in the context of post-2015 development agenda to be adopted in September 2015. It will build on the conclusions of Report of the Secretary-General on the priority theme and discussion of the 53rd session of the Commission for Social Development. “Social Development” in this online discussion is based on the concept adopted at the World Summit for Social Development and contained in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
- What are effective policy approaches (examples at the national level) that were proven to be effective in promoting social development (i.e., reduction of poverty, decent jobs, social inclusion, access to basic services, etc.)?
- How did/do they strengthen social development in relation to sustainable development?
- How to achieve policy coherent among different sectors (i.e, social, macroeconomic, trade, environment, etc.) to achieve socially-desirable goals?
- Is there a need for a new broader social development framework? If so, please describe its key elements.
Summary of comments - Dialogue 1 (6-10 April)
Moderated by Ms. Thelma Kay
What are effective policy approaches (examples at the national level) that were proven to be effective in promoting social development (i.e., reduction of poverty, decent jobs, social inclusion, access to basic services, etc.)
Approaches to social development must take into account the level of development of each country, political sphere where democracy and people's participation are of utmost importance, economic level where allocation of resources through for example, progressive taxation and redistribution mechanism are set in place, as well as social inclusion where no one should be left behind. Effective targeting mechanism must be developed to ensure leakages are being addressed.
Central to new perspectives is the need to integrate a culture of human rights as well as maintaining local efforts that strengthen identities, diversity and community development.
Strengthening education ( including skills training and lifelong learning), health, housing and social protection are key to social progress for which effective , synergistic and innovative approaches are needed.
Health is the product of a well-balanced interaction with one's physical and non-physical environment. The right of every human being to be healthy should be an inalienable right . With increasing transnational interdependence, a coherent health policy needs to be part of, and also vitalize social policy, irrespective of whether at a community or international level. Policies that facilitate healthier and cleaner environments worldwide are needed.
A living wage is important. Some countries have adopted a policy of inclusion of older people in their Health Plans (eg Ghana, Great Britain etc.) while action against the inclusion of migrants remains a problem in almost all countries of the world. In some countries , the needs of People with Disabilities in education, health, training and employment are not considered. The need for social policy approaches within the framework of decent work where the four pillars of respect of fundamental rights at work, enhancing employment, social protection and social dialogue must also be considered.
Participatory governance has to be promoted, regulated and legalized in order to help peoples to be in control of their own social development. Effective approaches should involve broad cooperative stakeholder representation from all sectors with emphasis on social dialogue in crafting social policies to enable more equitable development.
Strong leadership is important and there is the need for effective, transparent and accountable 'good' governance. Laws and principles must be upheld by leaders , judiciary systems and institutions , and objectively and effectively implemented.
A data revolution should be the way forward to enhance accountability and foster inclusion. It would change the traditional way of doing social development by identifying specific needs of population groups: (1) a) Put in place networks; b) Identify needs on specific topics; c) Derive direction from statistical trends. (2) Design and implement social development projects/programmes: poverty reduction, promotion of health, gender, nutrition, support, human rights etc. (3) And in the process, ensure transparency, commitment, collaboration and the fight against corruption .
A major concern for participants was long-term sustainability of social policies, and how funding was secured and allocated for such programs. Donations and public funding were seen as short-term measures even where a law was enacted to keep it intact. Restricted funds availability may cause the whole demand for these policies not to be met, or, during a recession funds may become scarce, creating difficulties for those dependent on such support. Therefore, a market mechanism may be considered for implementation in at least part of the solutions empowering local populations and leading to more sustainable social development. Other suggested options include progressive tax reforms, and increasing taxes on companies engaged in natural resources extraction.
How did/do they strengthen social development in relation to sustainable development?
Reinforcing the three key pillars required for good global policy-- health, environment, and governance --can provide guidance about which policies may help facilitate the integration of these pillars (such as policies that facilitate the building of infrastructures in towns and cities around the world that are pedestrian and bike friendly while at the same time reducing automobile gas emissions).
A good way to strengthen social delopment would be to encourage and promote the concept of 'Global Justice'--a need or mandatory requirement which is becoming more apparent, and which has arisen out of the relationship and interdependence between different societies as an imbalance and domination of some over others, either in the past or currently. An eventual International Convention on Global Justice could be the 'minimum standard' that requires global governance from an ethical standpoint. In that convention global redistributive measures, for example, could be taken by instituting a system of taxation for large international transfers of capital, a Global Fund to serve as a body specially constituted to redistribute economic resources to less developed societies.
Multinational companies would have to change to ensure investment in production within an environment framework. . Through this trifunctional framework workers would be empowered and sustainability created by companies that value workers, care for the environment, and create synergy for sustainable development.
Policy directions to strengthen social development are complicated by conflict. Austerity programmes and contractionary currency devaluation to sustain external debt servicing acts against social development processes. A government under severe international financial and economic sanctions is unable to meet the development goals of the United Nations. This in turn creates conditions where social trends become negative. Conflict also has a devastating impact on the environment.
How to achieve policy coherence among different sectors (i.e., social, macroeconomic, trade, environment, etc.) to achieve socially-desirable goals?
There is a need to have a legal framework where the legislature itself is ethically bound to ensure coherence (among sectors such as economy, trade and investment, environment and the service sector) when they are legislating. It is important for policies to be transparent to citizens. This can be possible with good e-governance, i.e., a comprehensive database of citizens with basic information, such as education, employment etc. With these in place people have better access to information, while governments can target the needs of people.
There is need to strengthen coordination and synergy and to create a body at the national level that may assure coordination and better communication among efforts to complement each other. The coordination is not only required in one field of development, but it is also needed among various fields, that is, vertical and horizontal coordination, between education, health, communication, and livelihood etc.
The political perspective inherent in determining social policy and economic issues usually does not take into account effects on the environment. It is not possible to have coherent inter-sector politics if we start from a conception of "economic growth" instead of "economic stability/sustainability".
To achieve socially-desirable goals and to achieve policy coherence among different sectors, equality and non-discrimination, participation, as well as transparency and accountability are the key principles that should guide the design and implementation of social protection policies. Respecting the principle of equality and non-discrimination means targeted schemes can be accepted as a form of prioritization of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups within a longer-term strategy to progressively ensure universal protection.
Coherence could start by focusing on politics that promote/support empowerment of local communities for sustainable ways of life, including for example: organic production, local markets, green architecture, healthy cities, and adaptation to climate change.
Creating innovative solutions spanning across multiple sectors could include policy decisions addressing more persons in a nation. For example, accessibility for hearing impaired persons in Airport Ground Handling sections deals with sectors Aviation, Telecommunications, Information Technology and Healthcare. Hence policy created on Accessibility would answer solutions to a wider network of people in multiple sectors in the industry.
Comparability of nations at the international monitoring system ( by the United Nations and/or measures such as the Social Progress Index) would lead to the assessment of the socio-economic progress of a nation.
Social Development Framework
Is there a need for a new broader social development framework? If so, please describe its key elements.
A broader social development framework would have key elements of inclusive development , covering new ways to forge consensus for participation and ownership, and creation of shared values . The framework should also embrace diversity, with social policies crafted to forge cohesion and break down barriers to interaction and trust.
A civil society empowering framework should also be considered, forged through all building blocks of society – family, community, workplace , cooperatives and social enterprises,etc.
A broader social development framework that is required is a more robust access to justice and to prevent cases of injustice . This could probably occur during breaking down of barriers and creation of innovative solutions. This is particularly important to provide justice to people concerned with sustainable development, and also for instance, with intellectual property rights.
For a new broader social development framework, there is a need for new sources of funding to finance social development. At the national and international level a new tax system should be built that brings about social justice and ensures environmental protection. It is also necessary to better regulate global finance, and apply new taxes, such as taxes on financial transactions and financial activities. Domestic funding for social development can be further increased through (i) improved tax collection and broadening the tax base; (ii) progressive tax systems to increase revenue; and (iii) measures to address tax evasion and tax havens. At the international level, additional funding for setting up social development framework is needed through adequate development cooperation programmes.