Sixty-second Session,
4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)

Reviewing Welfare System Challenges, Lessons Learned during Recent Crises, Speakers Tell Ministerial Forum Investing in Children Key for Economic Growth, Well-Being

Investing in children is costly but not investing is even more expensive, the Commission for Social Development heard today as it continued its sixty-second session.

The day began with a Ministerial Forum on “How to improve mainstreaming of social considerations in development frameworks?”  Moderated by Commission Chair Ruchira Kamboj (India), the Forum had Government officials from different parts of the world sharing the challenges faced and lessons learned by their social welfare systems during recent crises, with consensus emerging on the importance of child welfare, decent work and care for ageing populations.

States cannot afford to leave a single child behind, not only from a human rights but also a fiscal point of view, Johannes Rauch, Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection of Austria, said.  Giving a child a good start yields economic benefits down the line.  Despite being a “stable, wealthy country located in the heart of Europe”, Austria has been economically weakened by recent crises.  With cost of living at an all-time high and pushing many people into poverty, the primary dilemma facing his Government is “save or invest?” he said.

His Government, he added, responded by offering large aid packages, and anti-inflation support measures, many of them specifically targeting families and children.  When faced with the question of cutting social welfare, “my answer is invest”, he stressed. “To care or not to care” is another dilemma, he said, pointing to the rapidly ageing Austrian population and their increasingly pressing needs.  His Government passed two comprehensive long-term care reform laws, which will increase working conditions in the care sector while also raising the quality of care services.

Ana Mendes Godinho, Minister for Labour, Solidarity, and Social Security of Portugal, described a programme established by her Government to identify all children at risk of extreme poverty and guarantee them access to basic services.  “We are providing free childcare to all children in Europe,” she said, regardless of where they were born or whether their parents are rich and poor.  The latest data on global extreme poverty from the World Bank shows that the international community lost three years in the fight against that problem.  This crisis calls for solidarity and safety networks, she stressed.

The link between economic progress and social protection is very clear, she said, adding:  “we learned during the pandemic how fragile we are”.  COVID-19 gave the world a common enemy, and the international community learned the value of collective mobilization in response.  Once again, it is time to mobilize to tackle poverty.  Another priority is to ensure decent work, she said, adding that this is crucial to redistribute wealth.  Her Government has launched a dialogue between workers and employers, aimed at arriving at a 20 per cent wage increase.

Wellington Dias, Minister of Development and Social Assistance of Brazil, also participated in the forum, via a pre-recorded video message.  Two centuries ago, the income of the richest tranches was 18 times that of the poorest; today, it is 38 times, he pointed out.  The richest 10 per cent of the global population own 76 per cent of the planet’s wealth.  Such figures “shame us as a civilization”, he said, acknowledging that Brazil is no exception to this.  Its social policies were compromised by a destructive political project but when President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was inaugurated in 2023, he committed to end hunger and reduce poverty.

Inequality is not a given, but socially constructed, he stressed, observing that many countries lack the resources or technical capacity to tackle this.  When resources exist, they are fragmented, dispersed or misaligned.  Brazil has chosen the war against hunger and poverty as the number one priority for its Group of 20 presidency in 2024 and seeks to forge a new Global Alliance against Hunger and Poverty.  The Alliance will focus on channelling financial resources and knowledge to where they are most needed, he said.

By enshrining human rights as the driving force of sustainable development, said Alejandro Solano Ortiz, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, his country has been able to generate paradigm shifts at the most operational levels of public policy.  It is using data and digital technologies to address inequities, improve efficient use of public resources and ensure consistency in development policies.  The country has also implemented a system to track migratory flows, he said, adding that these processes can be more successful with collaboration from other States.

The Government, he added, uses a national database with information on all persons requiring assistance and economic subsidies due to poverty or vulnerability.  The system also incorporates the multidimensional poverty index, taking into account housing, health, education and social protection.  Turning to population ageing and care, he said the country is shifting the problem from the private and family sphere to the social sphere.  The national care system progressively implements a system of care for people in situations of dependency, especially the elderly, the disabled and chronically ill who require support to carry out daily activities.

Amongi Betty Ongom, Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development of Uganda, said her country aims to transition into the middle-income category through sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth.  Through prudent macroeconomic and social policies, Uganda successfully reduced poverty from 56 per cent in 1992 to 20 per cent in 2022.  Social protection is a critical component of Uganda’s national development strategy and is anchored on increasing access to social security through direct and contributory schemes, she said.  It also makes space for support for vulnerable people, gender responsiveness and a human rights-based approach.

The lion’s share of the national budget, she added, is allocated to social programmes, including free universal primary and secondary education, basic health improvement programmes and the modernization of infrastructure for water, sanitation and agriculture.  The comprehensive nature of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for strengthening institutions, establishing financing mechanisms and forging public-private partnerships, she added.

When the floor opened for comments and questions, representatives of Member States shared their national experiences and good practices in expanding social protection, including through a guaranteed minimum income and subsidies for rearing children.  They also asked questions about ways to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty to create long-lasting systemic effects and how best to apply taxation to support social programmes without increasing the cost of living.

Responding, Mr. RAUCH said that giving children a good start is essential to break cycles of poverty.  Austria is implementing the “Early Help” programme to support parents in the early months after birth, not only economically but also with children’s education.

Ms. GODINHO said that there is clear agreement that social investment, focused on children, is crucial to tackle poverty.  Portugal crossed data to identify children at risk and created a list, then provided benefits automatically to the families of those children — the families did not have to apply for this.  Further, local child welfare units are responsible for ensuring that basic services reach these children.

Ms. ONGOM highlighted the need for reforming revenue collection institutions, adding that in her country, such reforms, including computerization of the system, have yielded great benefits.  You cannot talk about the global without the local, she added, calling for the localization of social welfare.

Mr. ORTIZ said that 8 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) should be invested in education, but due to budgetary issues, Costa Rica does not reach that target.  The country is also working to ensure rapid inclusion of migrant children in the education system.

In the afternoon, the Commission continued its general discussion with over 30 ministers and government officials, who stressed that human rights-based social policies are essential for tackling multidimensional poverty.  They highlighted the need for robust education systems that are responsive to the needs of the labour market.  Representatives of developing countries underscored the need to mobilize resources for social development through capacity-building, technology transfer and debt cancellation.

General Discussion

DONNA COX, Minister of Social Development and Family Services of Trinidad and Tobago, said that poverty eradication is one of her country’s main objectives.  The Government has been working in tandem with civil society organizations and other State partners to collaborate on many poverty alleviation initiatives within the social protection system.  It employed robust measurement techniques to clinically assess the impact of the country’s social programmes on multidimensional poverty and vulnerability reduction.  Efforts are currently under way to establish a National Register of Vulnerable Persons, which would enhance the overall efficiency of the country’s social protection system and facilitate the rapid response to adverse situations regarding vulnerable groups.

HAJIA LARIBA ZUWEIRA ABUDU, Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection of Ghana, underscored the need to “face the sobering realities that persist”, pointing to World Bank data indicating poverty remains a profound challenge globally, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.  In Ghana, despite considerable economic growth, inequality and poverty persist, she said, noting that her country is vigorously enacting transformative policies to ensure equitable social development.  Policies such as the Education Capitation Grant and Free Senior High School have catalysed access to quality education, reaching millions and fostering long-term poverty reduction.  As well, the Ghana School Feeding Programme nourishes nearly 4 million pupils, sustaining education through nutrition, while creating jobs and markets for local farmers.  Complementing these efforts, the Planting for Food and Jobs initiative modernizes agriculture, enhancing food security and augmenting farmer incomes.  To address social development challenges globally, she stressed the need to scale up of investment in social protection systems and in modern, sustainable agricultural practices that ensure food security and economic empowerment at both national and regional levels.

ALEJANDRO SOLANO, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs of Costa Rica, said that his country has many refugees — a trend that has affected access to the quality of our social protection system.  Costa Rica has sought to redouble its efforts at the highest government level, developing a strategy that takes into account comprehensive challenges. Sharing three lessons, he said that data collection and analysis are key to the effectiveness of social policies. For decades, Costa Rica has been developing an integrated social information system, incorporating a multidimensional approach to poverty.  Second, it is important to seize the opportunity created by the country’s democratic demographic transition.  Third, it is vital to co-create strategies geared towards implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together with other stakeholders, while at the same time channelling public and private investments to this end.

MARILENA EVANGELOU SERDARI, Deputy Minister for Social Welfare of Cyprus, emphasized that poverty is a complex, multidimensional challenge, worsened by factors such as instability and fragility caused by conflicts, climate change and pandemics.  Social systems need to be ready to respond to the green and digital transition by promoting equal opportunities and poverty eradication, she stressed, detailing Cyprus’ broad social protection policies.  These include a guaranteed minimum income, minimum wage, the general health-care system and the long-term care services.  Education is also crucial in achieving a sustainable future, she said, noting that school attendance in Cyprus is almost universal, securing equal opportunities for all children without discrimination.  She also spotlighted her country’s National Disability Strategy 2018-2028 which aims to address the social exclusion of persons with disabilities.  “Towards the Summit of the Future 2024 and the World Social Summit in 2025, we need to renew our commitment for social cohesion and solidarity with a human rights-based and gender-responsive approach,” she pointed out, also underlining the need to take into consideration fundamental freedoms and labour standards.

MARÍA ALEJANDRA MENALDO, Vice Minister of Policy, Planning and Evaluation from the Ministry of Social Development of Guatemala, said that her country prioritizes the well-being of its most vulnerable populations ‑ children, teenagers, youth, women, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities ‑ by ensuring that each step is fully aligned with both national priorities, as well as with the SDGs.  In the Ministry of Social Development ‑ the guiding entity of social policies — is implementing and analysing various social programmes that seek to elevate the standard of life of these segments of its society, using an approach focused on human dignity.  The social register of households is an essential tool to focus efforts on and effectively implement social policies and programmes.

NHEK VANARA, Secretary of State of the Ministry for Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation of Cambodia, said that his country prioritizes social inclusion, such as education, health, employment, accessibility, social protection and gender, as outlined in its National Social Protection Policy framework 2016-2025.  Its long-term vision is to build a social protection system that is inclusive, effective and financially sustainable; to reduce and prevent poverty and inequality; to improve human resource development; and to stimulate economic growth.  Over the past decade, his Government has invested in the building blocks essential for an integrated social protection system, including by digitalizing social assistance benefits; consolidating existing social assistance programmes; and developing a national monitoring and evaluation framework that comprises social protection outcomes.  Further, he pointed out that in 2019, Cambodia introduced the “Family Package” — comprehensively addressing risks throughout the life cycle for poor and vulnerable families and children — as part of its wider integration agenda.

FANNY ESTHER MONTELLANOS CARBAJAL, Vice Minister for Social Policies and Evaluation of Peru, said that her country has the world’s fourth-largest forest cover containing 10 per cent of the species on Earth and the 10 most distinct cuisines in the world.  Despite this, Peru has serious challenges including poverty, which increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In 2022, its poverty rate was 27.5 per cent.  About 72 per cent of the poor live in urban areas — about 14 million people.  There is a need to address the current inequalities.  A national policy of development and social inclusion was adopted in 2022 aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.  Peru has strengthened its social register by creating a specialized clearinghouse for social information that makes it possible to reformulate policies and programmes based on data.

CARLOS RON, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for North America of Venezuela, aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, underscored that, for his country, the full eradication of poverty is a political and human commitment.  Inequality in access to food, education, health and social protection violates human dignity and political stability.  The pandemic highlighted the contradictions and vices inherent to a system based on the monopolization of capital, he pointed out, noting that elites turned the pandemic into a business and a weapon of war.  The solution lies in taxing the income of the richest people, he stressed.  Citing the criminal imposition of unilateral coercive measures as one of the greatest attacks against Venezuela’s social development, he said those measures affect more than one third of humanity and harm the most vulnerable groups.  Accordingly, he demanded the complete and unconditional lifting of these cruel measures of economic terrorism that only inflict more pain.

The representative of India, noting that social justice is a guiding principle of his country’ Constitution, highlighted the philosophy of “sabka saath, sabka vikas” which ensures development for all. One hundred thirty-five million Indians have emerged from multidimensional poverty in the last five years, he said, noting that the Government has been providing food grains to 800 million food-insecure people across the country while ensuring that poor families have health coverage.  Also noting a significant reduction in maternal mortality, he said India’s rights-based approach to reproductive health has been crucial to women’s empowerment.  Outlining a number of social welfare measures from tax-exempt sanitary napkins to community toilets to unique identification cards to children’s nutrition schemes, he said the country’s efforts to ensure political representation for women has resulted in 1.45 million elected women representatives — 46 per cent of the total — in local government.

The representative of the Philippines emphasized the importance of strengthening social protection programmes as a safety net for vulnerable groups.  This includes expanding cash transfer programmes, both conditional and unconditional, and other social assistance to ensure no one is left behind.  “By providing a lifeline to those in need, we can mitigate the impact of economic shocks and secure human dignity and security for all,” he said.  The vision of social protection in his country is for every Filipino to have a better and improved quality of life by building their capability to manage risks and reduce vulnerabilities.  His country signed the Philippines-UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2024-2028, which brings to the fore best practices to meaningfully impact the lives of Filipinos.

The representative of Paraguay, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that his Government is implementing programmes guided by respect for human rights.  It has also established a Cabinet focused on providing social services and reducing poverty, ultimately seeking to improve the well-being of its people.  In line with the conviction that digital transformation is essential to advance progress towards social justice, Paraguay implemented the transfer of funds to beneficiaries of social programmes through a virtual wallet. This measure has shown a significant reduction in associated costs, optimizing efficiency and streamlining the resource distribution process, marking an important step towards modernization of assistance systems.  He further reiterated Paraguay’s commitment to ensuring gender equality and the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The representative of Switzerland said multilateralism is more important today than ever before, especially when addressing social development. Echoing the need to craft strong social policies and build robust labour market institutions, she said that investing in education is crucial.  The education system in her country offers both vocational and academic career pathways. The considerable flexibility within and between the two ensures that “we have a sufficiently skilled workforce along the whole innovation and value chain”, she added.  Her country’s educational system contributes to social cohesion because it offers a broad range of job opportunities for people with different interests.  Another key feature of the Swiss vocational training system is its strong link with the labour market, she added.

The representative of Germany said that tackling multidimensional poverty means taking into account the entire life course of a person and putting into place an intersectional approach.  The participation of children and youth in policymaking is crucial, and so is ensuring gender equality, he said, adding that family-oriented policies must promote the well-being of all generations.  Human rights-based social policies are essential for achieving the overarching goal of poverty eradication, he said.  The youth delegates of Germany said that for vulnerable young people in their country, engagement in the United Nations is impossible due to structural and financial barriers.  This calls for inclusive engagement, they said, adding that young people of all social backgrounds in all their diversity must have a role in decision-making.

The representative of Qatar recalled that war is one of the biggest barriers to sustainable development, underscoring the illegal aggression waged by the Israeli occupying Power against Palestinians in Gaza.  His country hosted in March 2023 the United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries.  This goes hand in hand with the provision of $10 million to support projects for these countries, in addition to the allocation of $50 million to support the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action and capacity-building, as well as fostering resilience in these States.

The representative of Mexico said that her country’s programmes have made it possible for the most vulnerable groups to participate in social life by allowing them to develop a sense of belonging and identity and providing them with a dignified life based on equality in exercising their rights.  These programmes promote gender equality and address barriers to social inclusion. They include pension schemes for older adults and persons with permanent disabilities, as well as support for children and working mothers.  The first chamber of Mexico’s Supreme Court determined in October 2023 that all persons have the human right to care for others or to be cared for — and be able to care for themselves. The State has an essential role in protecting and guaranteeing that right.

The representative of Zambia, aligning herself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said that her country has undertaken subnational analysis and capacity assessment to establish poverty levels and living conditions of people for evidence-based decision-making.  A national development plan is in place to set out the strategic direction and development priorities for the country.  Zambia is also revising several policies aimed at enhancing agriculture production for sustainable nutrition and food security, as well as social protection for the poor and vulnerable.  She further underlined her Government’s commitment to enhancing allocation of resources to the social sector in order to build people’s resilience against shocks and risks, promote employment and enhance access to quality education.  Given that 60 per cent of the country’s population remains poor, Zambia will continue investing in social development and social justice, she added.

The representative of Thailand spotlighted her country’s significant endeavours in alleviating poverty and addressing the vulnerabilities of individuals and their families.  The “Thai People Map and Analytics Platform” has been utilized to identify low-income households.  Data has been further analysed to deliver services — including housing, health, education and employment assistance — to those living in vulnerable situations. In 2015, the “Child Support Grant Scheme” was introduced as a key national policy providing financial assistance to poor families with newborn children to narrow the poverty gap.  In 2023, over 2.3 million families have benefited from the policy.  Thailand has also given importance to fostering digital skills among persons with disabilities, women entrepreneurs, people living in remote areas, youth and older persons to prepare them for the digital transformation, she noted.

The youth delegate of Croatia said social policies play a pivotal role in levelling the playing field and ensuring equitable access to education, health care and economic opportunities.  Stressing the need to empower marginalized communities and enable them to break the chains of poverty, he said it is vital to confront the root causes of inequality, discrimination and exclusion.  Inclusion is not negotiable, he said, also stressing that the energy, creativity and determination of young people are positive catalysts for change.  Governments and stakeholders must engage with youth to shape policies that are not only effective but also resonate with the younger generations, he said, stressing the need for partnerships and collaboration between Governments and civil society.

The representative of South Africa, noting that most Sustainable Development Goals are impacted by poverty, said peace and sustainable development can be achieved only through a human rights-based approach.  Families play an important role in this as the basic unit of society, he said, adding that his country is making many holistic efforts to improve the lived experiences of children.  South Africa’s national development plan aims for social transformation, while recognizing that economic progress must go hand in hand with social equity.  Highlighting a series of legislations which ensure that policies are responsive to diverse needs of society, he said his country’s social protection system uses a hybrid model that covers the entire life cycle of individuals.

The representative of Montenegro said that his country has initiated significant reforms in social and child protection services and pensions.  These reforms include extending child allowances to all minors up to 18 years of age, increasing allocations for financial assistance to the poor and vulnerable and implementing multiple increases in the minimum wage.  Introducing new software systems in all institutions related to labour, pension disability insurance, social welfare and child protection is a top priority.

The representative of Poland stressed that Member States must listen to the voices of civil society, which is often the first to reach those who suffer from poverty.  Organizations working with the most vulnerable individuals know their needs best and can offer the most fitting solutions.  It is Poland’s conviction that by joining efforts by many entities, compounded by political will and comprehensive policies, “we will put the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, including eradicating poverty, back on track”, he said.

The youth delegate for Bulgaria stressed that health is among the top three concerns for young people, as well as crucial for social development and justice.  One of the most pressing issues facing youth health care is the disparity in access and affordability, he pointed out, noting that millions of young people worldwide lack access to basic health-care services which perpetuates the cycle of poverty and inequality.  Insufficient quality and access to health care continue to significantly affect young people, especially those with existing health conditions and disabilities, he cautioned.

Adding to that, his counterpart underlined the vital importance of mental health and urged Member States to implement more robust approaches to address the issue.  The Human Rights Council recognized the need to integrate mental health into primary care, he recalled, adding that young people should receive holistic care.

The representative of China, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, as the world is going through accelerated changes, the progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development falls short of expectations.  Underscoring the need to place development at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, he said that the Summit of the Future should place development in a prominent position. It is further essential to optimize resource allocation to disadvantaged groups, strengthen global cooperation and establish a global partnership for development.  International financial institutions should provide greater financial support for development in the Global South, he said, reiterating China’s commitment to assisting developing countries while maintaining their independence.

The representative of Libya, aligning himself with the African Group, Group of 77 and China and Group of Friends of the Family, stressed that debt cancellation, access to markets and technology transfer are essential to enhance international development.  Targeted social policies are key, he said, adding that they must focus on the family as the nucleus of social cohesion.  Libya is putting in place a safety net for those in need, including by providing access to basic services such as education, food, health care and electricity.  Investing in women’s access to education and economic opportunities can strengthen societies, he said, adding that his Government has recorded the highest rate of women’s political participation in the history of his country.  However, even talking about poverty is a luxury compared to the ongoing crisis in Gaza, he said, condemning those who practice sustainable destruction instead of sustainable development.

The representative of Pakistan said that in 2030, there will still be 575 million people living in extreme poverty.  His country is committed to creating an inclusive society, reducing poverty and addressing food insecurity, he said, highlighting the income support programme, as well as the shelter homes in several cities that provide lodging and food for those in need.  Also describing a youth empowerment programme that enhances employability through entrepreneurial skills training, he called for a global consensus towards promoting inclusive and resilient societies.  Developing countries need an investment of around $4.5 trillion per year to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, he said, stressing the importance of official development assistance (ODA), redistribution of unutilized special drawing rights (SDRs) and a reform of the international financial architecture.

The representative of Indonesia said that social development is facing great challenges, causing massive inequalities, particularly digital inequalities, gender gaps and a lack of access to education.  “We must act now to turn the tide,” she said, stressing that with limited time, it is vital to set priorities right.  Among all the challenges to social development, poverty is the greatest.  Those the farthest behind must be placed at the heart of the development agenda, including through investing in job reskilling for the growing green and digital economy, as well as access to microfinancing.  Jakarta calls for increasing the representation of developing countries in multilateral and international financial architecture to enable “a multilateral system that listens well”.  Lastly, social development is everyone’s business, she said, stressing the importance of inclusive policies and programmes.

The representative of the Dominican Republic observed that the COVID-19 pandemic and external shocks has slowed her country’s progress on the path to achieving the SDG targets.  In the post-pandemic period, her country focused on fostering some accelerators of the 2030 Agenda, such as generating quality employment, building sound and inclusive institutions and fostering greater resilience of the population in the face of climate shocks.  Now, 98 per cent of its population has health-care insurance ‑ one of the highest rates of coverage in Latin America and the Caribbean.  The Government has significantly improved school enrolment for children aged 3 to 5.  The level of poverty today is lower than it was before the pandemic.  “That is a milestone for the region,” she said.

The representative of Italy, aligning himself with the European Union, underlined the need to advance implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and move towards the upcoming SDG Summit.  Italy continues to prioritize social development and social justice through actions focused on poverty reduction and social security to guarantee inclusive and sustainable development.  At the same time, new challenges — such as climate change and digital transformation — require immediate and adaptive responses, he said, adding that the promotion of social, economic and intergenerational inclusion is at the forefront of his Government’s initiatives.  Enhancing dialogue between the public and private sectors is crucial to finding more effective solutions to these challenges. As well, the participation of women and youth is key, even more so when facing existential issues, he stressed.

The representative of Belarus recalled that, since its independence, her country has managed to set up a social development model which meets the needs of its people.  Guided by the principle of social justice, it provides every citizen with social guarantees.  Her Government aims to eradicate extreme poverty by working to boost the incomes of those with low income, she said, pointing to Belarus’ low level of unemployment and a robust pension system.  In addition, a system of State assistance provides social support to low-income households. She also spotlighted family policies promoting responsible parenting.  Condemning the use of unilateral coercive measures, she noted their “corrosive impact” on affected economies.

The representative of Greece, aligning himself with the European Union, said that sustainable development must be inherently social to have any impact at all.  Highlighting his Government’s initiatives, many of them focused on the family, he noted the challenge posed by Greece’s ageing population and pointed to a recently formed ministry dedicated to social cohesion.  Greece is also making efforts to empower parents to manage their work and life balance, while easing the burden of housing and childcare costs.  “Gender equality is not the problem, gender equality is a solution,” he said, citing the Secretary-General.  Describing the “nannies of the neighbourhood” initiative established by the Government, he said it aims to promote equality and facilitate women’s access to the labour market, while also reducing undeclared babysitting work and encouraging unemployed women to work as certified caregivers.

The representative of Cuba said a world in which a small minority enjoys riches while the majority struggles to live is the result of a world where those who finance wars and condone genocides say there is no money for social welfare.  Stressing the importance of sharing resources, technologies and knowledge, he emphasized the need for international cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.  The intergovernmental discussions under way to convene a social compact, as proposed by the Secretary-General should not weaken the role of the Commission.  “The nature of Cubans is to never consider themselves vanquished,” he said, adding that despite the difficult economic situation and the cruel economic blockade imposed by the United States, Cuba is advancing towards achieving the 2030 Agenda with inclusive policies.  Social protection is not just a guarantee of a job and salary in his country; it is a constitutional right, he added.

The representative of Kyrgyzstan stressed the need to focus on ensuring social justice and facilitating job creation.  Her country has put in place a robust legal framework to ensure equitable working conditions and fair wages for all citizens.  The Government has recently increased by 50 per cent wages for public-sector workers and social workers, along with doubling maternity benefits.  This reflects Kyrgyzstan’s commitment to social justice.  With the broad support of partners, her country has led efforts to establish the World Day of Social Justice, which is commemorated on 26 February this year.

The representative of Mongolia said that thanks to the well-established social protection system in her country, over 80 per cent of the total labour force contributes to the social insurance system.  On average, around two thirds of the population and families receive a type of pension, benefit and cash allowance.  There is, however, room for improvement.  Public expenditure on social insurance will likely increase due to the rapidly ageing population and increased life expectancy. In addition, most herders and self-employed people do not contribute to the pension insurance system.  Therefore, it is crucial to expand social insurance coverage to these groups and to support working-age individuals in their transition to the labour market through active labour market policies.

The representative of Nepal said that the progress on poverty eradication, productive employment and social integration is slow and uneven.  States have been mobilizing domestic resources for social services through progressive taxation and reprioritization of public spending; however, these efforts remain insufficient.  To complement the social development efforts of developing countries, they must be supported financially and through technology transfer, capacity-building and trade measures.  Nepal’s Constitution guaranteed the right to social justice, right to social security and right to employment, he noted, also highlighting his Government’s efforts to expand the social security network.  A contribution-based pension system and other social security measures have been introduced to bolster social justice and break the vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation, he added.

The representative of Sri Lanka, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, in its pursuit of sustainable development, his country places paramount emphasis on social justice, inclusivity and equity.  Inclusivity fosters social cohesion, reduces inequality and allows for collective progress and resilience.  It is, therefore, essential to prioritize the empowerment of marginalized groups and promote diversity.  Sri Lanka recognizes that true progress is contingent upon addressing the root causes of poverty, he pointed out, highlighting its significant strides to ensure access and quality education.  Citing education as “a powerful catalyst for social development”, he said that, by investing in education, Governments are able to break the cycle of poverty.  He also spotlighted his Government’s commitment to building robust health systems that provide universal access to quality health-care services.

For information media. Not an official record.