UNGA CONFERENCE 2019
Transforming Our World: Inclusive Social Development for All
25 September 2019, Wednesday
H.E. Adama Dieng
Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide
In 2015, the international community adopted an ambitious, comprehensive global development agenda that promised to leave no one behind. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was not only a well-developed document, but it also reflects what humanity can achieve whenever they decide to collectively tackle most pressing challenges. This framework provides the international community with the golden opportunity to position social justice and economic development for all at the center of the global agenda.
Social inclusion focused development, is about guaranteeing human rights and promoting social justice for all, increasing the quality of life of citizens and improving individual wellbeing. An inclusive society is one that rises above differences of race, gender, class, generation, and geography to ensure equality of opportunity regardless of origin. In an inclusive society, social interaction is governed by an agreed set of social institutions.
Inclusion requires five dimensions to be effective and indeed meaningful to a society concerned. Roughly it would include; Visibility – to be recognized as a member of the society; consideration – that the needs and concerns of all individuals and groups in society are taken into account by policy planners; access to social interactions – that everyone has the same rights to participate; equal rights – that the human rights set out in wide range of international and regional instruments are domesticated and all members of society are able to claim them; and access for all to resources necessary to participate fully in society.
If we are to achieve inclusive development and sustainable peace, we must reaffirm our commitment to the primacy of human dignity and agency of human in development itself. We must put humanity at the center of development. The central objective of any development pursuit should be to uplift humanity from the misery of poverty and injustice. As underscored by the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace.”
PANEL 1: Inclusive Social Development in achieving the Global Goals 2030
This session aimed to convene the role of inclusive social development policies and practices that help the United Nations achieve the Global Goals 2030. The panelists and participants discussed major issues concerning social inclusion and inequalities that play an important role in sustainable development and peace worldwide. The panelists focused on current challenges and potential opportunities around key aspects of social integration policies and access to basic public services. The session on inclusive social development helped lay the groundwork for the following discussions.
Hon. Mark Botomani
DR. Macharia Munene
Professor United States International University, KENYA
Tushar A. Gandhi
President & Founder, Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, INDIA
Role of the culture of peace in social cohesion and inclusiveness
Transforming our world is such an attractive notion that everyone wants to transform the world. Some want to change it for personal gain, others want to change it to meet their needs, some for their ambitions and others for their aggrandizement; What is common among all these is the selfish motive of egocentrism. True transformation occurs when one transforms one’s self, changes to improve and then inspires others to emulate the transformation. This is the kind of ethical and sustainable transformation. A mere declaration of intentions towards equality and inclusion will not bring about transformation. The transformation will have to become an individual responsibility, if we change as individuals, we can change society, nations and finally humanity.
The transformation must also be based on achieving equality. Today, in our consumption of earth’s resources, there is wide inequality. Now we are on the verge of self-destruction caused by our own greed and selfish nature. We can change, we must change, if we change individually, one at a time. We need a ‘Me First’ transformation movement. To transform humanity, we must start with children, they are the heirs of the world, education is what will empower our children to be able to inherit the world and keep it in confidence for the future. If we change individually, the result will be a global transformation, but it must begin with ‘Me first’.
Legal Manager, North America and the Caribbean, Thomson Reuters Foundation, USA
Importance of rule of law and democracy to reduce inequalities and implement social development policies
The Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters and our focus areas are inclusive economy, media freedom and human rights. A part of our organization is TrustLaw, which is our global pro bono service that connects NGOs and social enterprises with the best law firms and internal legal teams from around the world to support the corporate / business needs on day to day basis, as well as cross-border research to support the change of policies on human rights, corruption, microcredit, health, energy and the environment, among others.
Legal pro bono assistance is vital to guarantee the protection of the rule of law and strengthen democracy. We promote the SDGs through pro bono legal assistance in two main ways:
- legal support as an impact accelerator: we provide daily legal support to non-profit organizations so that they can fully focus on their mission and achieve greater impact
- the law as a change agent: we support advocacy efforts and enable change of laws through our legal research work.
Examples of recent pro bono projects that strengthen the rule of law and reduce inequalities are:
- Critics are not criminals: protect journalists from criminal defamation laws
- Guide “Know your rights” on land rights
- Legal and jurisprudential investigation on the prosecution of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence and terrorism
- Research on laws related to fiscal secrecy.
Dr. Han Entzinger
Professor Emeritus of Migration and Integration Studies
Erasmus University Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS
Diversity and Social Inclusion
Migration is a major source of diversity in today’s world, and will continue to be so tomorrow. It is often claimed that diversity has a negative impact on social cohesion. The more people differ in a society, the less likely they will accept each other and develop mutual contacts. Is this true? Does diversity negatively affect social cohesion? And, if so, what policies can control or even correct this process?
A crucial condition for more cohesive societies is the granting of a solid legal position to immigrants. After having resided in a country for a certain number of years, they should be granted full residential status, preferably of a permanent nature, or even full citizenship. Residence security provides a perspective for newcomers, and for that reason it is a necessary condition for a fuller participation in the main institutions of society, such as the labor market, housing, education, health care and the political system.
A fuller participation of all members of a society, whether they are immigrants or not, whether at the neighborhood or national level, is essential to achieve greater social cohesion. Still, this does not come without certain challenges. An important challenge, particularly in the case of immigrants, is that more complete participation requires a certain degree of cultural adaptation. It would be tempting to say that such adaptation is reciprocal. In reality, however, newcomers adapt much more strongly to the dominant culture than vice versa. In summary, we can conclude that diversity is on the rise, especially due to increasing immigration.
Silvia Alejandra Perazzo
President, ANU-AR, ARGENTINA
Civil society participation to facilitate social development
In today’s global world, civil society spontaneously or collectively raises the need for structural changes. In this sense, civil society is always one step ahead of the State. In addition, it sets the agenda for major changes. Inclusive and quality education must reach all communities, as well as urban and rural areas and the vulnerable population. The educational polices need coordinated action between civil society, the state and international institutions whereas educational and financial laws ensure the intangibility of the funds allocated to education. Programs and projects should guarantee knowledge, skills attainment, behavior development that favor tolerance, dialogue and peace. Lastly, we are in need of mass campaigns against violence, discrimination, exclusion and lack of opportunities.
Writer at Dawn Newspaper, Falak Sufi Scholar 2018, PAKISTAN
The role of youth in creating inclusive social societies
Our personal traits and stories play a very important role in defining the world we live in and the challenges we face, and are an undeniable part of our human experience. But when we recognize our differences without judgment, we recognize that this only makes us stronger, more complete and more capable of addressing complex problems as a coherent whole rather than just from our limited reference point. Young people are the perennial reserve of hope, since an evolving world will always need those who see beyond the defects of the present and aspire to a better future. Only when we create inclusive platforms for young people from diverse backgrounds to interact freely, share their ideas and experiences and feed each other with the fuel of their exuberance and optimism.
Dr. Ada Juni Okika
Executive Director, Center for SDG Global Education
Since the Post-2015 Era, the Center for SDG Global Education has focused on “Education Solutions in Community Classrooms” along the SDG Goal # 4 and the its targets in the Global Agenda 2030. In the course of our reach, we observed that quality education and inclusion for lifelong learning seems far fetched in communities in developing countries. Most communities still lack a curriculum on educational technology and technological facilities, qualified teachers and standard teaching and learning infrastructure. In communities with opportunities and facilities for quality education, educational practices begin with a complex curriculum that focuses on what children do not know but what they know. This hinders quality education, which is expected that SDG Goal # 4 and its targets will address globally by leaving no one behind.
In addition, we launched Barr Juni and Irene Endowment Trust to raise $80,000 to help provide schools in the Community Rehabilitation Scheme, scholarships, introduce visiting teacher services to community classrooms and Global Teacher Classroom.
We are committed to these initiatives that will help achieve the Global Agenda 2030. In addition, these initiatives will support partnerships between stakeholders and UN agencies to address quality and inclusive education in community classrooms in developing countries.
As we digress on the input from the 74th Session of the UNGA, it is pertinent to focus on the addendum that the community classrooms have an urgent need to improve the quality of education and the level of teaching and learning to meet the demands of SDG Goal # 4 and its target globally.
The panelists agreed that we should stop preaching but share ideas about good service delivery with humility. Therefore, a central element in the transformation of the world is to start from the self before reaching out to others. If ONE does not transform himself/herself to get rid of prejudices, how can I transform the world? Two, an inclusive economy, media freedom and human rights are important to transform our world: Inclusive social development for all. It requires respect for people’s rights to movement and migration, respect for refugees and respect for their culture and their human rights. The promotion of diversity, the reduction of barriers and the acceptance of all people where they are found help to achieve a transformed world and inclusive social development for all. Civil societies have the arduous task of removing all obstacles that hinder the direction towards the transformation of Our world for inclusive social development for all. Civic education and good communication within the respective receptive communities where refugees, migrants and internally displaced people seek comfort.
PANEL 2: Advancing Youth through Social and Economic Empowerment
This session focused on current policies and practices in the advancement of young people through social and economic empowerment, and how multiple stakeholders can work collaboratively to support youth-led initiatives and organizations. As a fundamental right recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, young people can play a crucial role in achieving sustainable development through active and inclusive participation.
Youth empowerment means helping young people to attain 21st century knowledge, develop competency skills, become responsible global citizens of people and the planet through communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. It is the responsibility of state and non-state actors to create opportunities for young people to obtain the information, skills and tools necessary to become independent, responsible and productive citizens. Specific issues that will be addressed in this sub-theme include: youth empowerment, youth participation, volunteering, education and girls and young women. It was pointed out that key priorities and challenges in accessing quality education should be addressed. Young people must be prepared to develop, improve life and acquire business skills to face the rapidly evolving labor market.
Emmanuel N.B. Flomo
Founder & Executive Director, Inspire Liberia Project, LIBERIA
Johnnie Lee Fielder
Director of Operations, International Youth Leadership Institute
Sasha E. Butler
Executive Director, Changing Destinations: Journey to Excellence, Inc., USA
Key priorities and challenges in access to quality education
Support for youth-led initiatives is an essential component to achieve learning objectives and prepare young people for success inside and outside the classroom. School districts, higher education institutions, local, state and federal governments, small businesses and large corporations must share the responsibility of equipping young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to become global citizens and leaders through the creation of grassroots and multi-stakeholder platforms where young people have opportunities to lead. Shared power is an important core value that motivates young people and teaches them to think critically about the world around them. They bring new perspectives to address challenges and generate innovative ideas. Young people are key to achieving the SDGs when they are trained to lead and develop the confidence to act and mobilize others towards a more equitable and sustainable future.
Policy and Advocacy Strategist, UN Foundation, USA
UNA-USA Youth member participation in human rights mechanisms and UN Summits
Empowerment may be the first piece, and we are seeing more of this, but those in power actually release some of their power to allow young people at the table to be another. In the implementation and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals, we know that multi-stakeholder participation remains a challenge. The good practices of VNR, VLR and 2019 opportunities will also be useful for implementing change. The United Nations Fund works specifically to empower young people through the Girl Up campaign and the UNA-USA grassroots network.
Head of Community Projects, Football Victoria, AUSTRALIA
The role of sports for the social and personal development of youth
Sports play a crucial role in the social and personal development of youth. I would like to explain it through my personal and professional life experiences. There are six key areas: promotion of well-being and confidence, the importance of mentoring, sports can be a level playing field, youth-led projects, promotion of a growth mindset, and more indigenous engagement and respect.
Sport helps with self-confidence, especially early on in life that helps youth integrate into new environments using sport as the common interest. Sport improves relationships and makes people happier. Everyone should have a mentor(s). In a world where people hang out in virtual communities or are less engaged in a person to person sense, it is even more vital to have that important mentor you can share ideas with, ask questions and explore life skills.
Inequality is increasing worldwide considering the disparity in the distribution of income, sport can lift the poor and humble the rich. Youth can make a stand as they are on climate change. In Melbourne, young people were leading a march to bring more attention to climate change. Let’s encourage youth-lead campaigns, invest in them and guide them in their journey. A growth mindset should be promoted where youth can embrace challenges, build resilience, have pathways to mastery, learn and apply criticism and find lessons from others that lead to their success. Finally, it’s time to connect with Indigenous communities that the collectivists’ societies hold the key to a more wholesome and resilient lifestyle. Sport can allow them to take risks and boost our cultural intelligence and meaningful engagement of Indigenous People. Youth can lead to this engagement and break the cycle of despair and welfare.
Director, M.K. Gandhi Institute, USA
Importance of non-violence education and culture of peace for social empowerment of youth
The community is the native climate of the human spirit and face to face uses our whole brain to understand, empathize and learn from each other. Learning, connection, grieving, problem-solving and mourning are things we do in circles with children, youth and adults. Urgent need for training in conflict transformation to support the challenges that will arise regarding population change and resource use. Systemic thinking tools can be taught to people of all ages to understand how systems work and learn how the best people and groups can interact and impact systemic change. Understanding events through the lens of systemic thinking offers opportunities for perspective and intelligent action, rather than reactivity, fear or despair.
Maria Cruz Rodriguez Del Cerro
Former Vice President, UNESCO Center of Getafe-Madrid, SPAIN
Education as a tool to create peaceful and inclusive societies
My goal is to alert multi-stakeholders and representatives of different institutions involved in the Peace Education Programs about the ways in which pregnancy, the perinatal period and the first years of life play a crucial role in the structural development of the brain and the subsequent development of the behavior of individuals. The main message that we must convey to our young people is to appreciate the effects of internal and external environmental stimuli on the plasticity of the brain, which profoundly affects subsequent behavior. I want to emphasize that, as a priority, we need to introduce, in the UNGA agenda, the following statement: good care during pregnancy and the early postnatal period can promote a healthy development of relationships and social behavior and help reduce antisocial behavior. Through simple and economic educational programs, we can contribute to sustainable peace by demonstrating to children and young people the importance of their early period of brain development.
Student, Changing Destinations: Journey to Excellence, Inc.
Youth Empowerment is very close to my heart. A lot of youth are addicted to their phones that when I’m at lunch in my school, people sitting across from one another—instead of talking—are texting each other. Social Action is important to tackle this problem. When I return to my community, I’m going to start a campaign called “Put Down the Phone, Pick Up a Friend™.” Everyone is so attached to their phones—worried about what’s going on and who’s doing this and that—that it’s time we put it down and look for people to connect and engage with. I’d be increasing the number of social interactions within my community.
Co-op Living is one of the greatest resource at risk to my generation. Hope has been fading away since technology has become more prevalent. Everyone’s worried about updates; who’s going to Snap them next and who’s on Instagram. Social media is enjoyable but leads to social isolation that leads youth to antisocial behaviors, suicides, and separation from the community. The solution for this issue is co-op collaboration and just becoming a part of the community. Community is what sets people up for greatness!
The panelists agreed that Youth represents one third (1/3) of the world’s population and cannot talk about social and economic development without significant participation of the youth who are most affected by the results of the Global Agenda 2030. The youth has always been considered as an important human resource for sustainable development by the United Nations. Young people are agents of social change, economic growth and social development. Consequently, the participation of young people in the decision-making and implementation processes is essential for sustainable development. Resolution 58/133 of the UN General Assembly also reiterates the “importance of the full and effective participation of youth and youth organizations at local, national, regional and international levels in the promotion and implementation of the Global Program of Action and in the evaluation of the progress achieved and the obstacles encountered in its implementation ”.
The importance of quality education in the empowerment of youth must be recognized by all stakeholders, especially the public and private sectors. However, panelists recognized a gap between policies and practices when it comes to the implementation of sustainable development goals. Public funds and investment in the education of young people are not enough to obtain successful results. Recalling Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Youth, repeatedly stressed the importance of meaningful youth participation throughout the United Nations Development Agenda.