Presentation by Ms. Eva Marie Hanfstaengl from the NGO "Social Justice in Global Development" on Financing for Development during Commission Expert Panel, 3 February 2012
"Can You Hear Us," : Report on Social Protection Floor Initiative from the NGO Committee on Social Development 2012Social Protection Booklet Part 1 Social Protection Booklet Part 2
2012 Civil Society Declaration for the 50th Session of the Commission on Social Development
Pathways to Poverty Eradication: Civil Society Perspective 2012
Poverty eradication is a central tenet of both national and international development agendas, yet, despite some progress, millions remain mired in abject poverty. As Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights states,” The fact that almost three billion people live in poverty and that 20 per cent of the world’s people hold 70 per cent of its total income means that we have not kept our promises.”
Poverty and its web of inter-related conditions such as economic and social inequality often intersect with other conditions including gender discrimination and the lack of access to educational opportunities, health care, sanitation, clean water, and decent work. Additionally, rural poverty which comprises 63% of poverty worldwide is also characterized by the unequal distribution of productive assets such as land and credit.
People-centered development was a key principle at the World Summit for Social Development (1995) where governments committed themselves to the promotion of social progress, justice, full participation by all and the betterment of the human condition. The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 reinforced the commitments made by governments in Copenhagen and gave hope to millions around the world.
Today the world is radically different. The concurrent food, economic and climate crises that the world community is experiencing, compounded by the militarization of societies, place the achievement of these goals in jeopardy. Policy assessments and investment planning need to include environmental, economic and social development that is sustainable. Recognizing the structural nature of inequalities and providing a structural response are essential to achieving the MDGs by 2015.
The Millennium Development Goals framework provided a starting point for advancing global development and assisting those living in poverty. However, global development also needs to be rooted in the fundamental principles of human rights.
One of the root causes of our failure to eliminate poverty and achieve the MDGs is precisely this absence of a human rights framework in addressing poverty eradication. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council’s Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (DGPs) addresses the key elements of meaningful participation, non-discrimination and accountability as integral to the way forward. These principles are founded on the indivisibility and interdependence of the civic, social, cultural, political, and economic rights of all people. They emphasize the importance of participation by those most affected by extreme poverty in decision-making processes which most affect their lives. The Guiding Principles provide practical guidance on how to operationalise the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of all persons living in extreme poverty.
As noted in the Chair’s Summary from the 49th session of the Commission for Social Development, “There is growing recognition that poverty is a violation of basic human rights, and therefore poverty eradication efforts should be viewed from a rights-based approach.”
Ensuring a basic level of social protection and a decent life for people is an obligation under the Human Rights Instruments. In each country a long term development plan which responds to local needs and capabilities and incorporates basic elements of the Social Protection Floor would ensure essential human rights for all. It is possible to implement such systems with a modest increase of 4% in budget allocation for development even in most developing counties. Over time, as resources allow, benefits can gradually be increased to respond to more of the needs of the most vulnerable. As Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his report, “Countries that have developed comprehensive, universal social protection policies covering the majority of the population have successfully reduced poverty and improved social conditions on a broad scale.”
Universal access to basic social protection and social services is necessary to break the cycle of poverty. Social protection measures are essential to reducing vulnerability to various shocks and to enhancing people’s capacity to manage and overcome situations that affect their well-being.
Global Financial Architecture
The present economic and financial situation, based on unlimited growth, is highly unstable and dangerous. It is also not sustainable. The global financial architecture has proven inadequate to meet the needs of the majority of the world’s population. Statistics show that a small minority are continuing to get richer while the vast majority of the world’s people are sinking deeper into debt and poverty. The world economy is producing more inequality than prosperity, more insecurity than progress.
The Global Social Crisis published by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) notes that many of the fundamental causes of the present economic crisis, “… such as insufficient financial sector regulation, unrealistically high executive compensation (salaries and bonuses), stagnating real wages and consequently rising inequality and debt-financed consumption” have not been addressed.
The United Nations needs to be at the heart of the process of transforming the international financial institutions (IFIs) into an equitable and sustainable financial architecture that is transparent and publically accountable. The participation of the Member States in the renegotiations of the international monetary and financial institutions with strong democratic representation and involvement of developing countries in the decision-making process, including equal voting rights is imperative.
Poor countries cannot be subjected to policy conditionality such as the privatization of basic social services or reducing public sector spending as a precondition for receiving needed funds. Capital flight and cross-border tax evasion which take much needed resources for development out of the country must be strictly regulated and eventually eliminated. This new financial architecture will insure respect for universal human rights and the fulfillment of the obligations that flow from them.
As a result of the global financial and economic crisis, public spending for social development has decreased but military spending has continued to increase. The continued emphasis on military spending as a means of providing security and stability, both nationally and globally, does not address the root causes of insecurity and instability. Reducing military expenditures by even 2% and allocating that money to addressing these root causes would greatly advance peace and development, the real foundation of the security and stability of a nation.
The annual cost of achieving all eight MDGs is estimated to be USD $329 billion. This is less than a fifth of the current military spending per year. According to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the world spends $1.4 trillion on weapons every year. Military power does not abolish war nor does it increase security. National security is enhanced when social development is a priority in the national agenda: poverty is reduced, more schools are built and sustained, better health care services are provided and the environment is protected.
Because global military spending has a direct impact on people living in poverty and the environment, there can be no serious commitment to poverty eradication by the United Nations Member States without addressing it.
The Financial Transaction Tax
A Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), a very small tax (e.g.0.05%) on all financial market transactions, is an innovative source of financing for development which would generate billions of dollars and is an efficient means of assisting developing countries achieve the MDGs, eradicate poverty, protect the environment and lay a foundation for sustainable development. It could also be used as an instrument to reduce the destabilizing impact of financial markets, reduce speculative trading and help mitigate fluctuations of exchange rates, commodity prices and asset prices in stock markets. At the same time, it would have a minimal effect on the real economy since the tax is limited to transactions between financial market actors.
Along with a growing number of country leaders, many economists, business leaders, labour unions, environmental groups and global health advocates support such a tax.
Alternative Measures of Wealth and Prosperity
What we measure determines our actions. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a key component of our current global financial architecture, is no longer an adequate measure of a country’s wealth. The GDP neglects to account for changes in the asset base or incorporate the real welfare losses from having an unequal distribution of income. It does not acknowledge the depletion of material resources and other forms of natural capital nor long-term environmental damage. Non-market services, such as domestic labour and voluntary care, are not included. 
A number of alternatives are available that incorporate other indicators of human well-being and development. Among them are: 1) the Human Development Index (HDI) as proposed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); 2) the Genuine Progress Indicator; 3) the Gross National Happiness Index and 4) the World Bank’s Adjusted Net Savings Index to name just a few. It is increasingly important that governments shift their focus from financial indicators as the only measure of wealth and prosperity to indicators that include quality of life for all citizens and environmental sustainability.
Climate change is a cross-cutting reality which undermines efforts to promote social development. Those countries and populations contributing least to climate change are often most severely affected by its negative impacts. Extreme weather conditions, such as greater severity of storms, floods and droughts, the melting of glacial ice and the rise of sea levels are exacerbating the plight of those already living in poverty. Increasingly human actions are depleting the earth’s natural capital. Both climate change and the use of the earth’s natural capital are global issues that will affect future generations. As Ban Ki-moon notes, “Climate change is a major threat to sustained economic growth, agricultural productivity and poverty eradication efforts, particularly in developing countries.”
The rural poor depend largely on agriculture and related small scale industries and services for their livelihood. Because 80% of rural households do some farming, agriculture is a key driver of development and poverty reduction. Small farm holders, especially women, often lack physical assets, financial capital and access to essential infrastructure.
Rural women are especially vulnerable because their source of livelihood is often limited to the agricultural sector where the incidence of poverty is higher and access to health care and education is limited. Efforts are needed to improve property rights and land tenure for women who produce the largest share of food in most poor countries. Ensuring access to land, credit, fair inheritance rights, and other productive resources to women and men working in rural areas are essential means for poverty eradication.
It is imperative that governments make resources available to small farm holders so that their farms can produce food and agricultural products that are environmentally sustainable and enable them to adapt to climate change. Women and men living in poverty in rural areas need to be directly involved in the identification, design and implementation of programs to ensure the effective use of resources and the equitable distribution of benefits. World Bank economists now accept that redistribution of land to small farmers would lead to greater overall productivity.
Development of a Green Economy
Green economics begins with people at the grassroots and their concerns. It is rooted in human development and social justice rather than the maximization of profits. It requires deep structural change and transformational social policies. It results in improved human well-being and social equity while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. It is holistic and places economic and social development within the framework of a sustainable environment. The Earth Summit (Rio + 20) which will take place in June, 2012 will focus on this green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainability. Governments will have the opportunity at Rio + 20 to fully implement the 1992 Rio Principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in the approach to a green economy, sustainable development and poverty eradication.
According to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), investing two per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in protecting the environment can initiate a transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient green economy which would have a positive impact on all sectors of society. It is central to the eradication of poverty. The extractive industries need to come under more stringent control as the livelihoods they eradicate by polluting fisheries, farmland, forests, etc. cannot be compensated by investments.
Social development in today’s globalized world necessitates addressing the systemic causes of poverty and inequality. The economic, political and social structures that sustain poverty and unjust relations must be transformed so as to rebalance the extremes of poverty and wealth throughout the world.
Therefore, we recommend that:
 Navi Pillay, Speech given on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Declaration on the Right to Development, 11 November 2011
 Chair’s Summary – 49th Session of the Commission for Social Development, p. 3
 International Labour Organization: Report of the Social Protection Floor Special Advisory Group. “Social Protection Floor: For a Fair and Inclusive Globalization”, 2011.
 DESA. The Global Social Crisis: Report on the World Social Situation 2011, p. 15.
 Jackson, Tim. Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. Earthscan Publishers, 2009, p. 179.
 McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough new Planet. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011.
 UNEP, Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, 2010
Informal Breakfast Consulatation on the "Social Protection Floor," 19 January 2012
|Members of the NGO Committee on Social Development wish to thank all those who participated in the breakfast discussion on the implementation of the "Social Protection Floor Initiative":
Isabel Ortiz, UNICEF
Rofina Chikava, Permanent Mission of Zimbabwe to the United Nations
Jacob Kumaresan, WHO
Karin Manente, WFP
Griet Cattaert, ILO
Sara Burke, Frederich Ebert Stiftung
Susanne Fries Gaier, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations
Charlotte Djan-‐ Ghana Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Elisa Díaz, Permanent Mission of Mexico to the United Nations
Janga B. Gurung, Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations
Dian Anna Sarr, Permanent Mission of Senegal to the United Nations
Osama Abdel-‐Khalek, Permanent Mission of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United Nations
Amin Lambrebat, DESA
Yao N’Goran, DESA
Wenyan Yang, DESA
Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of DESA's Division for Social Policy and Development
Ambassador Jorge Valero, Permanent Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations
Arlene Diaz, Permanent Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the United Nations
Ms. Alexandra Sajben & Mr. Yao N'Goran (DESA)
Ms. Wenyan Yang (DESA); Ms. Sara Burke (FES);
Rev. Tom Brennan; Mr. Janga B. Gurung,
(Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations)
Ms. Cristina Diez; H.E. Mr. Jorge Valero (Permanent
Mission of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the
United Nations & Chair of the 50th Session of the
Commission on Social Development)
Ms. Griet Cattaert (ILO); Sr. Fatima Rodrigo; Ms. Sara
PDF Version of Forum Flyer
Mr. Ming Chong, Forum Moderator
H.E. Mr. Milos Koterec, ECOSOC President &
Sr. Winifred Doherty, Chair NGO Committee on Social Development
ECOSOC President Receives Signatures of
Social Protection Floor Campaign from Lynn Healy of NGO Committee
"From Passion to Action" Panel:
Ms. Braema Mathiaparanam, ICSW
Ms. Eva Hanfstaengl, Moderator
Sr. Griselda Martinez Morales, Congregations of St. Joseph
Videos of the Forum are now made available on youtube:
Play List: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBF1458BC100032A4
Morning session: http://youtu.be/GZPp4WnIkd4
Afternoon session: http://youtu.be/cWLRxr2EDTU