The Commission for Social Development and The Civil Society Forum.

Sister Germaine Price, representing the Company of the Daughters of Charity at the United Nations, shares the news below from the UN in New York:

[UN-NGO]The United Nations Commission on Social Development began its annual 10-day session at UN headquarters in New York in February with a call to give the poorest and most vulnerable populations the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

According to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s report for the Commission, “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all” nearly 80 per cent of the world’s population is without adequate access to social protection, leaving those living in poverty feeling powerless to improve their position.

The report also states that although more than 600 million people have overcome poverty since 1990, 1 billion people will still be struggling to reach that goal by the 2015 deadline year for attaining the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Special attention must be given to the situation of young people across the globe who are neither employed or looking for work, nor in school or training programs.

Speaking at the Commission’s opening meeting, the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Néstor Osorio, said that without adequate policies and mechanisms, social tensions increase and erode social cohesion, which is essential for promoting development.

Mr. Osorio also underlined the potential of information and communications technology to empower people in rural areas or disadvantaged communities by giving them access to knowledge, and noted that this would be one of the aspects explored during panel discussions.

To better understand how to promote empowerment and integrate it into the development agenda, participants at the Commission’s session will hear from experts leading discussions on this topic, as well as focusing on the elderly, youth, and people with disabilities.

The session will also include more than 30 side events and consideration of five resolutions as well as recommendations by the Civil Society Forum on promoting the empowerment of people to achieve social development goals.

Each year before the Commission for Social Development, the NGO Committee for Social Development organizes a Civil Society Forum based on the theme to be addressed by the Commission. This year’s Forum theme is “Civil society: Promoting empowerment of people to achieve the goals of social development.” Both the Commission and the NGO forum provide an opportunity for members of civil society, the UN Secretariat and Member States to explore effective policies and practices to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, and achieve social integration and decent work for all. The Civil Society Declaration affirmed by NGO representatives attending the forum was presented at the opening session of the Commission for Social Development by the Chairperson of the NGO Committee for Social Development.

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