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Social development back at centre of UN agenda, UN expert says

Social development back at centre of UN agenda, UN expert says

Johan Schölvinck
Although the United Nations development agenda is still dominated by economics, the 10-year review of the World Summit on Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark, these past two weeks has brought social concerns back to a central position, a UN expert said today.

Summarizing the discussions at the implementation review, Johan Schölvinck of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said though poverty, employment and social inclusion were the three core commitments of the 1995 Summit, poverty had become the most discussed and was viewed largely through the prisms of income and consumption.

Employment and social inclusion had largely been ignored, he told journalists at a press briefing, and highlighting them again was a positive achievement of the "Copenhagen+10" review by the UN Commission on Social Development, which started on 9 February and ends tomorrow.

Because of the links forged between Copenhagen+10 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to halve extreme poverty by 2015, it was now possible to inject into the MDGs the issues of employment and social integration and broaden the concept of poverty elimination, "moving away from the dollar-a-day approach," he said.

Economic growth was once more a means to an end and not an end in itself, Mr. Schölvinck said, and "a reclaimed Copenhagen could complete the road we are travelling together."

He expressed the hope that finance ministers and ministers concerned with social development could connect the social and economic spheres, which for too long had been kept separate.

He also called for more national experts to come to review meetings, saying that their expertise was more important than that of high-level officials and diplomats who increasingly politicized the issues.


Video of press briefing [12mins]