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SDG Knowledge Hub/Ana Maria Lebada: ECOSOC Integration Segment Looks at Paths to Eliminating Poverty

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Ana Maria Lebada
Thematic Expert for 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Romania)

11 May 2017

ECOSOC Integration Segment Looks at Paths to Eliminating Poverty

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Participants at the ECOSOC Integration Segment considered best practices, lessons learned and recommendations at the national, regional and international levels, with a view to extracting recommendations to guide policymaking for poverty eradication as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Segment convened from 8-10 May 2017, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.

10 May 2017: Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, especially extreme poverty, is key for achieving all of the SDGs, participants in the the 2017 Integration Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) underlined. Reflecting on the theme of the three-day meeting, ‘Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?,’ representatives of governments, civil society and the private sector called recognize the multi-dimensional nature of poverty and address its “vicious cycle” through integrated policy responses.

The 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment took place from 8-10 May 2017, at the UN Headquarters in New York, US. Participants in the meeting considered best practices, lessons learned and recommendations at the national, regional and international levels, with a view to extracting recommendations to guide policymaking for poverty eradication as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The recommendations may be reflected in the Ministerial Declaration of the 2017 ECOSOC High-level Segment and the 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), taking place in July 2017.

Opening the meeting, Nabeel Munir, ECOSOC Vice-President (Pakistan), noted that despite increases in gross domestic product (GDP), international trade and foreign investments in the past years, and advances worldwide in primary education, gender equality and women empowerment, approximately 800 million people still live in extreme poverty. Adding that progress in reducing poverty and hunger is not universally shared, Masud Bin Momen (Bangladesh), on behalf of UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson, called for mainstreaming poverty eradication across the UN’s work and for an integrated and cross-cutting approach to peace, prosperity and partnership. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said the Segment’s discussions could offer specific guidance for the implementation of the UN Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR), which aligns the UN development system with the 2030 Agenda.

In keynote addresses, Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, stressed the importance of supporting and promoting women in Africa to participate in leadership roles, and of investing in human capital and in young people, especially those under ten years old. Muhammad Amjad Saqib, Founder of Akhuwat, noted the need to move from universal subsidies to well-designed and targeted policy interventions, and to use innovative approaches that include technology and participation. Chernor Bah, Youth Representative on the High-level Steering Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, called for an education revolution and for putting the poor at the heart of all decisions.

In a session on ‘An integrated agenda towards achieving SDG1’ (no poverty), Alejandro Cruz Sánchez, Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, remarked that poverty eradication requires a paradigm shift to focus on long-term actions to ensure the social rights of citizens. He highlighted the Mexican President’s launch, in April 2017, of the National Council for the 2030 Agenda, as well as a social charter. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), on behalf of the UN Regional Commissions, said the Commissions are focusing on the questions of integration, inclusivity, policy consistency and policy coherence for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Azita Berar-Awad, International Labour Organization (ILO), remarked that political commitment can be maintained in the long term if there is continuous monitoring and feedback of policy implementation and design. Andrew Shepherd, Director, Chronic Poverty Advisory Network,
 outlined the importance of innovation, links between social protection with financial inclusion, and the development of small holder agriculture with protection on major risks (such as climate insurance).

Scott Vaughan, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Institute for Sustainable Development 
(IISD), noted that a central aspect of poverty is hunger, and reported that an IISD study conducted in collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) shows that an extra US$11 billion in public spending each year from now to 2030 to achieve the SDG 2.1 target to end hunger by 2030. He said US$4 billion of this amount should come from donors, and the rest from countries themselves. To reach this goal, he identified five areas of action: increase social safety nets, specifically cash transfers and food stamps; practical on-farm support; better rural development planning, infrastructure and market access; better nutrition support; and reforms to laws, policies and institutions. He highlighted the interdependent nature of the SDGs, noting that “We will not make progress on one without taking others into account,” while acknowledging that “building coherence within and across complex systems like national governments and the UN-wide system is immensely difficult.” He suggested that one way to bridge these challenges is through new deployment information and communication technologies (ICT) and big data applications.

In a session on ‘Policy integration across borders,’ Juan Somavia, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Chile, and former ILO Director-General, invited ECOSOC to design a ‘How To’ document on policy integration, and to ask countries for the practical ways in which they are addressing the issue, as well as the type of support they need. Karin Fernando, Centre for Poverty Analysis, stressed the need to design incentives for policy integration, and to include the incentives in budgets, as otherwise it can be hard for the various governmental tracks (such as energy and climate change) to accept a leading role for sustainable development. Mario Marroquin, Tri-National Commission, Trifinio Plan (Trifinio-Fraternidad Biosphere), called for policy integration on transboundary issues such as water, conflicts over natural resources, or migration, to help with better planning and monitoring of the phenomena.

In a session on ‘National experiences,’ Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), underlined the need to increase international support for human resources and technical capacity, particularly on data collection and analysis to assist small island developing States (SIDS) in tackling their gaps and vulnerabilities. Noting that 40% of the Peruvian population is anaemic, Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru, said the government is providing rural mothers with funding, as an example of efforts to target programmes to the most vulnerable groups.

Miska Simanainen, Social Security Institution of Finland, presented a pilot scheme through which Finland pays its unemployed citizens an unconditional monthly sum for two years. He noted that basic income at that level could not be considered as a policy for eliminating poverty. Paulo Luiz Moreaux Lavigne Esteves, Brazil, Russian Federation, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Policy Centre, presented successes of the International Poverty Centre for Inclusive Growth and the Centre of Excellence against Hunger, created with UN’s support, in monitoring and assessing the impact of the country’s national development policy.

Edward Sambili, Egerton University, described Kenya’s “interagency road map” in which the government, NGOs, trade unions and the Council of Governors partner for SDG implementation. He also highlighted an open social platform that allows “players” to share knowledge and experiences on poverty reduction initiatives.

In a session on ‘Bringing the ECOSOC System Together,’ David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland and Chair of the 62nd session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), highlighted the CSW’s recommendations on poverty eradication, including: strengthening training and skills development for women and girls; increasing investment to close the resource gaps for gender equality; and enhancing the collection, analysis and dissemination of data on unpaid care work.

Philipp Charwath, Permanent Mission of Austria and Chair of the 55th session of the UN Commission on Social Development (CSocD), noted that at CSocD 55 participants agreed that fiscal policies, tackling regional imbalances, building resilience, and investing in healthcare and in social protection are essential to addressing poverty. Cristina Popescu, on behalf of Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani (Qatar), Chair of the 50th session of the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD), noted the need for: ensuring universal access to reproductive rights; eliminating harmful practices to women, such as female genital mutilation; and expanded pension coverage in countries with aging populations, to promote healthcare.

On the least developed countries (LDCs), José Antonio Ocampo, Columbia University and Chair of the UN Committee for Development Policy, outlined the importance of human asset accumulation, structural transformation, and international support including official development assistance (ODA) for poverty eradication. Elliott Harris, UN Environment Programme, serving as moderator for the session, noted that collaboration and cooperation across the UN functional commissions is key to better supporting UN Member States and contributing to the HLPF.

The Chair’s summary of the Integration Segment will be available for consideration by Member States in the upcoming sessions of the ECOSOC High-level Segment and HLPF. [Meeting webpage] [Concept Note] [Programme] [Statement of IISD President and CEO] [Remarks of the UN Deputy Secretary-General] [UN Meeting Summary, 8 May] [UN Meeting Summary, 9 May][UN Meeting Summary, 10 May] [IISD Sources]

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