Economic and Social Council: 2017 Integration Segment, 23rd Meeting

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SIX OFFICIAL 08-May-2017 02:49:36
Segment addresses the theme “Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?”
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Poverty Cannot Be Measured by Income Alone, Participants Tell Economic and Social Council as 2017 Integration Segment Opens

Former Malawi President Says Most of World’s 760 Million Poor People Live in Africa, Likely to Be Young, Female

Describing poverty as a multi-dimensional phenomenon that could not be measured by income alone, several speakers said today that the structural factors keeping people poor were often missing from policymaking.

As the Economic and Social Council opened its three-day 2017 integration segment, they commended its theme — “Making eradication of poverty an integral objective of all policies: what will it take?” and welcomed the progress made over the past several decades, including the lifting of more than 1 billion people out of poverty. Maternal health had improved, child-mortality rates were down and the spread of HIV had slowed in many parts of the world, and the biggest challenge now was the effective and coordinated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which would have a positive impact on the lives of the 800 million people still living on less than $2 a day.

Delivering a keynote address, Joyce Banda, a former President of Malawi, pointed out that most of the 760 million people living below the poverty line around the globe were in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of the continent’s poor people were young and likely to be female, she added, noting that women were more likely to produce, harvest, store, process and cook food, “but they eat last and least”. If current trends continued, most African youth would grow up uneducated, unhealthy, unemployed and frustrated, she warned.

Perhaps surprisingly, having a job did not necessarily mean a ticket out of poverty because Africa continued to have the world’s highest rate of “working poverty”, she said, referring to employed people still living below the poverty line. With the planet’s highest levels of child malnutrition, maternal mortality and other preventable health challenges, what Africa needed was integrated policy that would address the multitude of challenges confronting it, she emphasized, urging greater investment in the continent’s young and female populations. Describing them as “untapped but potentially explosive wellsprings of human capital”, she stressed the need to pay more attention to girls up to the age of 10 years since the current focus on adolescent girls over the age of 14 years was coming “too late”.

Also delivering a keynote address was Muhammad Amjad Saqib, former general manager of Pakistan’s Punjab Rural Support Programme, calling for an integrated approach that would make eradicating poverty a major part of all policymaking. Pakistan’s poverty-eradication agenda aimed for inclusive and sustainable economic growth focused on education, health and better living standards, he said. Education remained the most powerful tool for lifting people out of poverty, he said.

If microcredit could be provided without interest, education could be provided without cost, he emphasized. The Government was taking a holistic approach, with newly constituted bodies focusing on income support, a fund to oversee poverty reduction as well as education and health insurance schemes. “We are aware of the need to move from universal subsidies to well-designed and targeted solutions.” Innovative models, based on a participatory approach to development, were critical, he said, stressing the role of microcredit loans dispersed among 1.8 million families across Pakistan. “This is all about empowerment and self-reliance,” he said.

Chernor Bah, Youth Representative from Sierra Leone and Chair of the High-Level Steering Committee of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative, also delivered a keynote speech, saying education had brought hope and helped transform his life out of poverty. Tackling poverty in a sustainable and integrated way would require re-examining and deconstructing the current design of the global economic system, which advantaged business over labour, he emphasized.

However, ending poverty would not result from policy change in Sierra Leone, he said, calling for a global education revolution that would finally end illiteracy, among other things. Such a revolution must also activate a global civil society committed to the defining values of the United Nations. Underlining the need to focus on empowering girls, he said a girl born in Sierra Leone today would have only a one in ten chance to make it through secondary school, adding that one in five girls would marry by age 15. “Her school has no female teachers, she has no mentors,” he said, also pointing out that, because there was no contraception, the young girl would be likely to have children at a very young age. Those children would in turn probably have poor nutrition and no opportunity to attend school, thereby continuing a cycle of poverty.

Delivering opening remarks Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said that eradicating extreme poverty remained a deeply entrenched and intergenerational challenge. Recalling her first-hand experience, as Nigeria’s Environment Minister, of the many challenges to implementation of the 2030 Agenda, she emphasized the crucial need to bring various sectors and stakeholders together and to build synergies while prioritizing the marginalized. “The most vulnerable of our people count on our efforts,” she added.

Also delivering opening remarks were Nabeel Munir (Pakistan), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and Masud bin Momen (Bangladesh), Vice-President of the General Assembly.

The Economic and Social Council held two panel discussions titled, respectively, “An integrated agenda towards achieving SDG 1” and “Policy integration across borders”.

Speaking during the general discussion this afternoon were representatives of Viet Nam, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador (for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Ecuador (for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Turkey (also for Mexico, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia), Grenada (on behalf of the Community of Caribbean Community), Philippines, Tajikistan, South Africa, Brazil, Ethiopia and Mexico, as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 9 May, to continue its Integration Segment.

Panel Discussion I

The Council then held a panel discussion on “An integrated agenda towards achieving SDG 1”. Moderated by Courtenay Rattray (Jamaica), it featured the following panellists: Alejandro Cruz Sanchez, Secretary of Planning, Evaluation, Regional Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico; Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); Azita Berar-Awad, Director, Employment Policy Department, International Labour Organization (ILO); Scott Vaughan, President and Chief Executive Officer, International Institute for Sustainable Development; and Andrew Shepherd, Director, Chronic Poverty Advisory Network.

Panel Discussion II

This afternoon, the Council held a second panel discussion, focusing on “Policy integration across borders”. Moderated by Andrew Revkin, Senior Reporter for climate and related issues at ProPublic and former reporter at The New York Times, it featured the following panellists: Juan Somavia, Director, Diplomatic Academy of Chile, and former Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO); Mario Marroquin, specialist in cross-border management, Tri-National Commission, Trifinio Plan (Trifinio-Fraternidad Biosphere); and Karin Fernando, Senior Research Professional, Centre for Poverty Analysis.
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