Generation Raised alongside Millennium Development Goals Needs Jobs, Education, Inclusion in Decision-making, Youth Delegates Tell Third Committee
The biggest problem facing young people around the world — in developing and developed countries — was unemployment and underemployment, youth representatives told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as it concluded its general discussion on social development, with lively contributions from a number of delegates, many of whom had grown up alongside the Millennium Development Goals.
Young people from around the world spoke candidly about the obstacles that they faced, with several speakers lamenting that youth had not been given their due roles in public life. A youth delegate from Finland noted that after 15 years of implementing the Millennium Goals, less than one fifth of Finnish young people had ever heard of them. When asked about the future they wanted, they described a fair and equal world, where people were judged by their skills. “Ideology and religion are not the leading factors behind radicalization of youth,” he stressed. “Much more important is the lack of economic and social opportunities.”
Some speakers focused on national challenges. Two youth delegates from Sri Lanka spoke about the tribulations of a country emerging from three decades of conflict. Noting a disparity in resource distribution between rural and urban areas and the burden of conflict on women, they called on the international community to “rethink structural dominance and power relationships”.
Knowledge was power, some speakers said. A youth delegate from Belgium said many children and young people were unaware of the existence of their rights and lacked full and equal access to the information that would allow them to seek help when their rights were violated. Many youth, including girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children, faced social limits and exclusion at schools.
Romania’s delegate pointed to an outdated education system structure, where accumulation of information had replaced gaining knowledge. “We dream of an education that nurtures critical thinking and creativity,” she said, because those were the qualities employers sought.
Agreeing that education was crucial to achieving the Millennium Goals, several delegates reported on the strides made. A speaker from the Dominican Republic said the country was investing heavily in education, with 4 per cent of its gross domestic product allocated to education and an expansion of school infrastructure. By the end of 2014, the country could declare itself “free of illiteracy”, he said.
Along similar lines, a representative of Lesotho noted that his country had the highest literacy rates in Southern Africa. Nepal’s speaker praised his country’s policy of providing positive discrimination in the form of quotas in education to ensure that all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, had access to free and compulsory education.
Despite that progress, many challenges remained, he said, joining other delegates in calling on the international community to place the unfinished Millennium Development Goals at the top of the post-2015 agenda.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Austria, Egypt, Iraq, Belarus, Mongolia, Kuwait, Pakistan, Suriname, Zimbabwe, Bulgaria, Peru, Turkey, Republic of Moldova, Norway, China, Paraguay, Viet Nam, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Malta, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Bolivia, Honduras, Panama, Algeria, Kenya, Albania, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Ukraine, Republic of Korea, Chile, Georgia, Maldives, Eritrea, United Republic of Tanzania, Sudan, El Salvador, Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Argentina.
Also delivering a statement was a representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 9 October, to take up the issues of crime prevention and international drug control.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) met this morning to continue its debate on social development. For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4097.
LYDIA WALTER, a youth delegate from Austria, said that the paramount importance of education could not be emphasized enough. Educational institutions of any kind fulfilled a crucial role in bringing change because they fostered critical reflection and constructive action. “The society I am envisioning does not exclude any groups” for reasons such as their sexual orientation or gender identity, she stressed. It was also crucial to encourage tolerance to erase borders that provoked armed conflict and indifference. Calling on the international community to rethink the global economic system and face the drastic consequences of environmental degradation, she concluded that there could be no peace, prosperity or progress without the full and equal participation of people all over the world.
OSAMA ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), aligning his delegation with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said empowerment should be at the centre of social development. Identifying a need for an effective strategy to enable people to empower themselves, he said the right to social development was central in Egypt and benefitted all, including vulnerable groups, with increases made to minimum wages and social allowances. Turning to persons with disabilities, he said a database had been established to identify them and address their needs. On families, he noted their important role in eradicating poverty. Regarding the ageing population, he called on the United Nations to mainstream their needs. Recognizing the importance of youth, he outlined national policies targeting development, employment, literacy and capacity development. In closing, he highlighted the situation of people living under foreign occupation and the need to include the effects of terrorism in social development discussions.
YAHYA AL-OBAIDI (Iraq), aligning his delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77”, said his country was committed to promoting prosperity for citizens and ensuring that they were at the forefront of its policies. National efforts were under way to ensure housing, health care, social security and equal opportunity for all. Over the last decade, Iraq had adopted legislation that focused on dignity of life as a basis for social development. Social services were provided for families, older people and persons with disabilities. In order to help young people, Iraq had established professional training centres to enable them to create their own businesses. Iraq had also ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. By reforming national institutions, the Government was trying to bridge the gap between common practice and the post-2015 agenda goals. Terrorism was a big challenge in Iraq, he said, as it targeted State infrastructure as well as private institutions. As a result, he concluded, Iraq would continue to fight terrorism side by side with developing social welfare policies.
EMILY KELLY, a youth delegate from the Dominican Republic, said that it was time to reset priorities and put social development at the forefront of the United Nations agenda. Poverty eradication was the most urgent international requirement. In order to achieve this goal, the Dominican Republic was investing heavily in education and had allocated 4 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to education, which had led to an expansion of school infrastructure. By the end of 2014, the country could declare itself “free of illiteracy”, with the Secretary-General having chosen the Dominican Republic as a champion in the campaign for global education. In closing, she welcomed the nomination of an independent expert on the rights of older persons, adding that a global legal instrument was necessary to protect the rights of the ageing population.
JOEL LINNAINMÄKI, a youth delegate from Finland, said after fifteen years of implementing the Millennium Development Goals, less than one fifth of Finnish young people had ever heard of them. When asked about the future they wanted, they described a fair and equal world, free from threats of violence and climate change, where people were judged by personality and skills. He mentioned UN-Women’s HeForShe campaign and asked that all business be green in the future. “Ideology and religion are not the leading factors behind radicalization of youth,” he continued. “Much more important is the lack of economic and social opportunities.” Calling for a permanent forum on youth, he asked for the empowerment of young people from developing countries.
VALENTIN RYBAKOV (Belarus) said transitional social policies had been set up, where the responsibility was shared between citizens and the State. Faced with an increased life expectancy, the need for active labour and ensuring a decent life was of pivotal importance. To address those and related issues, the country had pursued national strategies for social development, redistribution of social expenditure, developing entrepreneurship and establishing new jobs. Turning to the Millennium Development Goals, he informed that the share of the population living under the poverty level dropped to 5 per cent in 2014 from 40 per cent in 2002. Other initiatives revolved around providing quality health and education and homes for older persons and persons with disabilities. Noting that every fourth citizen was a young person, he emphasized the importance of providing education, health services, jobs and housing to empower the youth to participate in the economic, social and political development of the country.
OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG (Mongolia) said promoting the empowerment of people to work towards achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all was a pressing issue. Stressing the importance of investing in essential social services and social protection, improving access to decent work, promoting open and inclusive institutions, and transparency and accountability, she highlighted national efforts aimed at empowering people through increased public participation, information and communications technology (ICT) development, improved access to decent work and education. Further, she said the Government had launched the national “An Employed Mongolian with a Job and Income” programme, which created 34,000 jobs and provided vocational training for unemployed middle-aged and young people.
ALIA ABDULLAH A Y ALMUZAINI (Kuwait), aligning her delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77”, said societies were duty-bound to provide an environment of equal opportunity to all citizens and to build transparent institutions. “Kuwaiti society was governed by solidarity and dependence,” she said, noting that her Government had earmarked over $70 billion in the 2013-14 budget for general services, with the largest share going to social and health services. Commensurate with the Secretary-General’s recommendations in his report on ageing, Kuwait was dedicated to protecting the rights of this vulnerable group. Guardians of older persons were penalized if they abused or neglected their commitments. Further, in order to integrate people with disabilities into society, Kuwait had undertaken several projects, including the “Journey of Hope”, which was a maritime voyage that sailed from Kuwait to 19 States, with a crew that included people with Down syndrome. As the world celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Year of the Family, Kuwait continued to stress the importance of families and the work-life balance. In particular, women in Kuwait were given many special privileges, such as maternity leave and time off for breastfeeding.
SAHEBZADA AHMED KHAN (Pakistan) said that the empowerment of people was a key enabler in the process of poverty eradication and social integration. Committed to realizing the objectives of the World Summit for Social Development, known as the Copenhagen Summit, to build a just and prosperous society for all its citizens without any discrimination, he said Pakistan had put socioeconomic development at the heart of the Government’s national agenda. Concluding, he said Pakistan had taken several steps to address the growing needs of its more than 11.6 million senior citizens, as respect and reverence for the elderly was part and parcel of their sociocultural ethos.
RAYNEESH HARIBHAJAN, a youth delegate from Suriname, said that the National Youth Parliament had taken a number of steps towards achieving participation in capacity-building and skills training for youth. In addition, there had been discussions with the Ministry of Education to evaluate and amend school regulations to make them more child-friendly, provide recommendations on improving access to ICT and to establish a confidential hotline for youth to call on any matter affecting them. Further, Suriname had played an active role in building a bridge between the youth of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). Concluding, he underlined his country’s positive experiences and his willingness to share them with the international community.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe) said that meaningful development should include all people and should strive to lessen inequalities rather than widen them. With that in mind, he said that since independence, Zimbabwe’s development policies were geared towards achieving economic empowerment and independence for its citizens. Recognizing that policies that prioritized investments in social services, including education and health, were critical in laying a sound foundation for vibrant economies, he emphasized Zimbabwe’s commitment to ensure that every Zimbabwean had access to education. In conclusion, he hoped that the post-2015 development agenda would answer the development aspirations of millions of people who were looking to delegates to set strong normative standards for the development of their nations and societies.
RADINA KOLEVA and ANI KOLEVA, youth delegates from Bulgaria, said that young representatives had advocated for active youth participation in the decision-making process on pertinent social issues. Non-formal education was a key tool to integrate young people with disabilities and to reduce the rate of youth unemployment. In addition, they hoped the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda would include ambitious yet achievable goals and clear quantifiable milestones to measure its successful implementation. Stressing that unemployment was one of the main challenges for young people, they underlined that education should not be taken for granted.
AUGUSTO THORNBERRY (Peru) said that in 2011, his country had established the Ministry for Social Inclusion and Development to implement and administer public policies to combat poverty and inequality. The Ministry had produced a national strategy that identified priority areas, such as child nutrition, early child development, economic inclusion and the protection of older persons, he said, noting that “it is clear that economic growth is no guarantor for social inclusion.” Economic development and social inclusion required a stable political environment and, therefore, each year, Peru had increased the budget allocated to social investments. Noting that national efforts required a favourable international environment to be successful, he called on States, the United Nations system and international financial institutions to bolster cooperation in consolidating social inclusion policies in developing countries.
MAHISHAA BALRAJ, a youth delegate from Sri Lanka, said young people faced multiple challenges as the country recovered from a 30-year armed conflict. She and other youth delegates had travelled across their island to engage in consultations to capture the thoughts and aspirations of young people. Since Sri Lanka provided a state-funded education for all, the 92 per cent literacy rate for boys and 90 per cent for girls were among the best in the developing world. The biggest challenge now was the disparity in resource distribution between rural and urban areas. Unemployment and underemployment was another challenge to youth, both in developing and developed countries. As skills development was a critical need, Sri Lanka had combined the ministerial portfolios of youth affairs and skill development.
SENEL WANNIARACHCHI, a youth delegate from Sri Lanka, said that he was born 22 years ago in a conflict-scarred island where his mother had fought a lonely battle to raise two children. Women and girls around the world faced many structural barriers, he said, highlighting that it was crucial to rethink the way the international community viewed structural dominance and power relationships. Expressing solidarity with UN-Women’s HeForShe campaign, he vowed to take its message of gender equality to men and boys in cities and villages nationwide. While it was a matter of pride that girls were actually performing better in Sri Lanka and the world’s first elected female President was Sri Lankan, it was also important to do much more to ensure that more women were represented adequately in the public sphere.
YIGIT CANAY (Turkey) recognized social development as the core of any development efforts. The recent steady growth had allowed the country to focus on social development issues, with achievements centred on eliminating extreme poverty and gender inequality and ensuring universality of primary education. Yet despite progress made, challenges remained, especially concerning persons with disabilities and a need to raise awareness on rights of older persons. Social development would be incomplete without addressing issues including women rights and youth employment. Central to that endeavour was equal access to education to combat discrimination and improving knowledge of human rights.
KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho) said because poverty reduction was a complex problem involving economic and social issues, international cooperation was required. HIV/AIDS remained a challenge for Lesotho, he continued, asking that the post-2015 agenda place the unfinished Millennium Development Goals at the top of the new framework. Turning to education, he said his country had one of the highest literacy rates in Southern Africa.
CAROLINA PODOROGHIN (Republic of Moldova) said that Governments should pursue far more than economic growth to achieve social inclusion. The international community needed to stay on track with the outstanding targets of the Millennium Goals. During the last few of years, the social development paradigm of his country had been oriented towards empowering people and capitalizing on human potential. Mainstreaming the internationally agreed development goals into national laws and strategic policies had facilitated the configuration of a comprehensive and forward-looking national agenda. One example was the accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with the Government pursuing not merely their social protection and health assistance but also the recognition of their human value, dignity and potential. Further, in order to reduce youth unemployment, career guidance and recruitment assistance had been expanded to reach more young people.
JOSEPH DELLATTE and LIEN WYCKMANS, youth delegates from Belgium, said that children and young people were not aware of their rights. Full and equal access to information must be available to enable them to seek help when their rights were violated. Turning to issues concerning young girls and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children and young people, Ms. WYCKMANS said they faced social limits, exclusion at schools and youth movements. She called on Governments to both inform them of their rights and to protect them. In conclusion, she applauded UN-Women’s HeForShe campaign for raising awareness of gender equality.
ISELIN HEBBERT LARSEN (Norway) said international efforts for people with disabilities were focused on education, humanitarian assistance, health and women. “Education is an important tool to ensure that children with disabilities can realize their human rights,” she added. Strengthening education programmes for persons with disabilities needed mapping, data collection and planning for their inclusion in the public school system, she continued. That, she concluded, required both financial resources and political will.
ADRIAN LORENTSSON, of the Norwegian Association of Youth Mental Health, said that mental health problems among youth were an emerging global problem. He urged Member States to involve service users as a guiding principle in the design, planning, delivery and organization of all health care services. He said it was important to allow young people with disabilities to participate in decision-making processes on issues that concerned them.
BIANCA DRAGOMIR, a youth delegate of Romania, said the quality of education was a concern. She noted that there were many outdated education system structures that existed, where an accumulation of information had replaced gaining knowledge. “We too dream of an education that nurtures critical thinking and creativity,” she said. Indeed, employers were interested in good communication and critical thinking, problem solving, responsibility and integrity, she concluded.
LUCA CIUBOTARU, a youth delegate of Romania, said that education prepared students for civic engagement, yet only 5 per cent of young people were involved with non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In conclusion, he called for an increase in youth participation at the United Nations.
YAO SHAOJUN (China) said that correct social policies could lead to inclusive and sustainable development. The international community must attach great importance to reducing inequalities between countries, he said, recalling a Chinese proverb that recognized people as the foundation of the country. Therefore, each Member State must ensure a decent standard of living for each member of its population. In addition to social reforms that promoted employment and social security, public efforts must extend to protect vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities and ageing populations. China had achieved significant progress in improving its people’s well-being. In 2013 alone, there was an increase of 13.1 million new jobs in China and per capita disposable income had increased by 7 per cent. Urban and rural minimum subsistence allowances had been increased and the reform of the medical system had been deepened. Further, China stood firmly with the Governments and peoples of Ebola-affected countries, he said, noting that in addition to shipments of medicines and medical equipment, his country had dispatched 200 medical workers to help.
RITA DHITAL (Nepal) said that his country’s efforts were guided by the constitutional provision that prohibited discrimination “on grounds of religion, colour, caste, sex, tribe, origin, language or ideological conviction”. Under its poverty reduction strategy, Nepal had initiated several programmes to generate employment opportunities and enhance productive capacity, with a particular focus on agriculture and infrastructure development in remote or rural areas. Other efforts included positive discrimination in the form of quotas in education as well as targeted programmes in capacity-building initiatives and skill development training. The Government was committed to ensuring that all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, had access to free education. Further, Nepal was a State party to 22 human rights instruments. While not all Millennium Development Goals would be achieved by 2015, he said his country believed that the unfinished agenda must find a place in the post-2015 development agenda.
JOSÉ ANTONIO DOS SANTOS (Paraguay) said that despite economic growth, it faced challenges to ensure that the growth was inclusive and to bridge the equality gap. Poverty had been reduced to 23 per cent in 2013 from 35 per cent in 2009. Specific programmes had been developed to benefit the families in rural and poor areas, he continued. Providing an overview of efforts, he said action had been taken in various areas, including monetary allowances conditional to vaccinations and the education of children, pensions, housing, building family centres and distributing school kits and school lunches. He then reiterated the importance of international cooperation as an important tool for the development of national programmes.
NGUYEN TRAC BA (Viet Nam) said that the international community had made significant achievements in promoting social development, one of the three pillars of sustainable development. Pointing out serious social challenges that remained, he called on the international community to redouble efforts to address the root causes of poverty, inequality and social exclusion, and to ensure social protection. It was also crucial to support people with disabilities so they could exercise their political, economic, cultural and social rights, and participate equally in social activities. In that regard, Viet Nam was preparing for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities before the end of that year, he concluded.
XAVIER LASSO MENDOZA (Ecuador) noted the need to overcome inequalities, which could be achievable if the post-2015 development agenda put human issues at the forefront. In Ecuador, social issues were important, proven by the country’s investments in health care and education, ensuring access to justice, promoting economic and social rights and fostering artistic expression. Turning to women’s empowerment, he said initiatives had been undertaken to promote and protect the rights of all women, including indigenous women. Other areas addressed by the Government addressed issues concerning persons with disabilities, early childhood care and education and youth.
ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that the adoption of the historic Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action in 1995 had put people at the centre of the development agenda, and identified poverty eradication, social inclusion, full employment and decent work for all as key elements for people’s empowerment. Pointing out that 250 million primary school age children were not acquiring basic skills for reading, writing and mathematics, he pointed at a lack of access to quality education. Further, mainstreaming youth in the overall development process, bringing the issue of disability to the forefront and enhancing international cooperation and collaboration for the empowerment of people were the prerequisites for sustaining the national efforts, he concluded.
CHRISTOPHER GRIMA (Malta), aligning his delegation with the European Union’s statement, recognized the need to strengthen the channels of communication between persons with disabilities, the State, service providers and NGOs. The promotion and protection of rights of persons with disabilities had been put in place, he said, adding that partnerships with the private sector on development projects were also being sought to cater the everyday needs of persons with disabilities. What was called for now, he said, was political decisiveness, harmonization and better coordination.
KHALED MANZLAWIY (Saudi Arabia) said that efforts had been made towards social development, including targeting families, youth and persons with disabilities. Training programmes for family dialogue were aimed at addressing issues facing society and strengthening their skills and communication. On the elderly, he said that policies on putting them in better positions within the family had been developed. Turning to persons with disabilities, he said their caregivers received support. On youth he said that the national strategy focused on the needs of young people, including training, education and employment.
CELINA GREPPLER, a youth delegate from Germany, said that there might be 20 million young people in Germany, yet there were 7 billion people worldwide, who did not want to be defined merely by their age. People should contribute to creating and implementing policies and programmes at all levels against all forms of age-based discrimination against older but also against younger persons, she said.
OZAN SOLMUS, a youth delegate from Germany, said that age was just one feature of people. People had multidimensional, dynamic personalities, which adapted according to their environment and experiences. He underlined that identity meant many things, including being young and traditional, being old, being full of dreams for the future, or being European and Muslim at the same time.
JESSICA ELIO (Bolivia) said her country’s major challenge was to build an equitable society. The desired aim was to eradicate discrimination, overcome exclusion and reduce inequities and inequalities. The 4.8 per cent national economic growth had contributed to a decrease of extreme poverty from 37 to 18 per cent. School drop-out rates, especially for young girls, chronic malnutrition and illiteracy had also decreased, she said. A national housing programme for indigenous families saw 47,000 houses built. Turning to the issue of water, she said that 75 per cent of the population had access to drinking water.
DANIEL ROSA, a youth delegate from Honduras, noted that his presence at the United Nations was the first time his country had sent a representative of young Hondurans. The Government had created local laws and supported international resolutions, which had improved the inclusion of the youth in national dialogue and policymaking. Despite limited resources, he said that Honduras had made considerable progress, and invited all Member States to support projects that would improve the inclusion of their youth in relevant activities.
DESIRÉE DEL CARMEN CEDEÑO RENGIFO (Panama) said that eradicating poverty was the main challenge on the international development agenda. Geography, vulnerability, age limitations and illnesses were the main factors affecting poverty around the world, she said. Panama, in that regard, had been implementing several programmes aiming at reducing exclusion of vulnerable groups and inequality in society, including initiatives such as Guardian Angel, Universal Grant System, Safe Neighbourhood, and Network of Opportunities.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said investments made in economic and human development had led to a reduction of the portion of the population that was living in poverty, from 15 per cent to 6 per cent. On employment, he said that investments were made to create jobs in agriculture, industry, tourism and small- and medium-sized enterprises. To support business creation, he added, administrative procedures had been simplified and shortened. Turning to issues involving the elderly, he said that laws, regulations and policies to promote and protect their human rights had been adopted, alongside other social development initiatives.
GLADWELL WAMBUI KAHARA, a youth delegate from Kenya, noted that the Ebola crisis had negatively impacted the course of social development. Several regions of the world were experiencing situations that acted as obstacles to achieving economic and social growth, she continued, as resources had to be deployed to respond to humanitarian crises. She also noted that the recent discussions of sustainable development goals provided an impetus for the post-2015 agenda framework. Turning to another challenge, she said the influx of refugees had exerted a burden on the delivery of social services, particularly education, health and provision of security. On unemployment, she said that the Government had instituted policy measures to set aside 30 per cent of all its tenders, including goods and services, to youth, women and persons with disabilities.
ERVIN NINA (Albania), aligning his delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union, said unemployment was the major national challenge that needed urgent attention. His country had recently introduced a new strategy to overcome unemployment and to promote social inclusion in order to ensured that no one was left behind. In that regard, the Government was doing its best to protect and support people facing socioeconomic challenges and discrimination. Underlining that providing opportunities to young people should be Albania’s priority, he noted that the Government was also concerned with the protection and promotion of human rights for people with disabilities.
AMINA SMAILA (Nigeria) said efforts to confront poverty and unemployment had not yielded results, especially in least developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa. For its part, Nigeria was focusing on strengthening its institutional capacities so that all social groups, including the vulnerable, could function effectively in society. Further, her Government had formulated a youth development policy as well as a draft policy on ageing. Nigeria was also addressing the issue of accessibility of persons with disabilities in all public buildings and facilities through sustained advocacy campaigns.
DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the “Group of 77”, said progress had been made in social development, including in youth employment and in the promotion and protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and the elderly. Financial resources had been set aside to benefit persons with disabilities, especially children, he added. Also, a general census had been conducted to gather data and information in order to better tailor interventions targeting children with disabilities. Additional initiatives had been set up to benefit the youth and the family, he concluded.
MPHO MICHELLE MOGOBE (Botswana), aligning his delegation with the statement delivered on behalf of the “Group of 77”, said that her country was prioritizing the eradication of poverty, creation of employment opportunities and promotion of social integration. Many citizens in Botswana still had limited access to potable water, sanitation, food and shelter, or access to quality education and health care. Therefore, the Government had introduced several initiatives to solve these problems. Programmes were also in place to enable vulnerable population groups to participate actively in the economic, social and cultural spheres of the country. However, national capacities were inadequate to effectively respond to those challenges and Botswana had joined the Secretary-General in calling for the establishment of a coordinating mechanism within the United Nations to address those and other gaps.
YAROSLAV GOLITSYN (Ukraine) said that the progress of reform within the Millennium Development Framework had been fundamentally disrupted by the conflict in his country’s two eastern regions and the illegal annexation of the Crimea. Ensuring the protection of 5.1 million citizens living in conflict-affected areas was a priority for his Government. Calling on the international community to support the launch of the preliminary response plan, he said that providing technical support to the Government in the field of preparedness and humanitarian response would enable thousands of Ukrainians to start rebuilding their lives.
HAHN CHOONGHEE (Republic of Korea) said that a highly empowered population can change the future of a nation, as shown by the example of his country. Basic social protection schemes, such as income support for vulnerable people and universal health care services, had proven to be effective in helping members of society stay resilient in times of economic crisis, he added. Several policies had already been put in place to address the needs of the youth, the elderly, persons with disabilities and the family.
YEJI PARK, a youth delegate of the Republic of Korea, said when considering the post-2015 development agenda, economic development and environmental protection could not bring the “future we want” if social development was underestimated. She also said her country’s full utilization of ICT had been a driver for economic development and social inclusion.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day was reduced by 50 per cent since the day Chile committed itself to the Millennium Development Goals. His country had made progress in reducing extreme poverty, providing basic services, improving quality of life and overcoming inequality. In addition, he said that the empowerment of people was key to working towards eradicating poverty. In that regard, his Government had focused on a number of areas, including educational reform, gender equality, economic growth and decent work for all. Despite some progress, gender inequality remained a challenge. Next year would mark the twentieth anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development, and as one of its first organizers, Chile had urged the Member States and United Nations funds and programmes to renew their commitment to ensuring social inclusion, creating decent work for all and eradicating extreme poverty.
LASHA SHAKULASHVILI, a youth delegate from Georgia, said that young people perceived themselves as both the generation of tomorrow and also a generation that could make change today. Speaking about the importance of participation in the decision-making process, she confirmed that young Georgians were ready to contribute and build a desired future together with older generations. Further, increased participation of youth in international affairs was critical for achieving sustainable development in the post-2015 development era. Noting that there were 73 million unemployed young people worldwide, she concluded that youth could act as the main watchdogs for observing the process and make a positive impact on issues that concerned youth, both locally and globally.
SHIRUZIMATH SAMEER (Maldives) said that despite impressive progress made on economic development and poverty eradication, income distribution remained a major challenge. She recognized that building equitable societies required social integration through full employment and decent work for all. The provision of small- and medium-sized enterprise loans, diversification of the economy, increasing vocational training and skills development and expanding employment opportunities could address those issues, she said. In advancing social development, it was important to remember that climate challenges could not be ignored, as they undermined sustainable development.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea) said that youth remained Africa’s greatest asset, although the rate of unemployment and underemployment among young Africans was a concern. At the national level, programmes related to food security, building and delivering basic services and restoring the environment were being implemented. However, despite efforts to improve education and health care service delivery, Eritrea had faced additional obstacles, particularly sanctions and the occupation of its territory.
ELLEN AZARIA MADUHU (United Republic of Tanzania) said that access to universal quality education could serve as a pathway for vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals to move out of poverty. Her country had achieved great success in providing universal primary education and had embarked on the expansion of tertiary education, but still faced challenges of the quality of education, the literacy ratio between men and women and a lack of skilled teachers. While her Government would continue to do its part, she asked that development partners assist developing countries in building the financial and human resource capacity needed to respond to needs, particularly education, health and employment of people with disabilities.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI (Sudan) said the global financial crisis and related challenges had “cast a shadow” on achieving social development. International efforts were needed to foster development goals in a more cohesive way and international partnerships should incorporate social development in the post-2015 development agenda. At the national level, a comprehensive initiative involving all sectors of society was in place to discuss issues affecting them. Turning to persons with disabilities, he said that social care homes had been established. The remaining challenges required strengthening coordination, deepening cooperation through partnership-building, disbursement of development assistance and debt forgiveness, he concluded.
RUBÉN IGNACIO ZAMORA RIVAS (El Salvador) said that Governments played a significant role in enabling people to escape from poverty, find productive employment and decent work and to achieve social integration. To reach long-term development goals, his Government had reiterated its commitment to combat poverty and inequality by seeking active participation of its citizens. Governments should pay attention to the problems and needs of young people who were the agents of change. Giving them the opportunity to express their views about the future of the development agenda in both regional and international forums would have a significant impact for the development.
BANDAR AL-ERYANI (Yemen) said his country was the poorest nation in the Middle East, with over 45 per cent of the population living under the poverty level. Since the food, fuel and financial crisis of 2009, the country had been dealing with food insecurity, chronic malnutrition and a lack of access to water, education and health. Providing services was also challenging as many citizens lived in remote areas. To address those and related issues, he called for an improvement in humanitarian assistance, an increase in cooperation and coordination to find development solutions.
MADINA KARABAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that debt burden, geographic isolation and its status as a landlocked developing country posed difficulties in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. She asked that greater attention be paid to that special category of countries in international forums. At the national level, the vision was for a stable Government to guarantee human rights, observing the rule of law and pursuing sustainable economic growth. Recognizing the increase in migrant workers and the importance of remittances for food, health and housing, she called for the post-2015 development agenda to pay attention to the nexus between migrants and development.
MARÍA LUZ MELÓN (Argentina) said that strengthening social development must be based on human rights, including civil, economic, social and cultural. Recognizing the key role of Governments, she said her country had developed people-centric strategies. She then underlined the importance of ensuring human rights for all, particularly older adults, adolescents, persons with disabilities and indigenous people, without prejudices. Eradicating extreme poverty must be the main aim of the international community, she said, noting that Argentina had succeeded in its efforts to combat poverty despite its economic and financial crisis in 2008. Seeing the Millennium Development Goals as catalysts for shaping public policy, her country expected all Member States to engage in dialogue to make progress.
KEVIN CASSIDY, International Labour Organization (ILO), agreed that empowerment was needed for the effective participation of all members of society in decision-making processes. Pointing to the Secretary-General’s report, which stated that “empowerment is a long-term process towards the effective participation of all members of society in decision-making processes that affect their lives”, he recognized decent work as empowering in itself in its ability to effect positive change in people’s lives at the national and local levels. Efforts to increase trade and promote investment liberalization and infrastructure spending, he continued, were not sufficient to improve economic and social development unless accompanied by dedicated efforts to boost employment and decent work opportunities. Despite the challenges faced, he welcomed the recognition of decent work as an important goal that is relevant to all countries regardless of their stage of development.