CSocD 2017: A Veteran’s Overview

By Renaude Grégoire, Social Justice Office – Sisters of Saint Anne


Every year in February, since 2011, I have participated in the Commission for Social Development (CSocD). The Commission brings together State members, UN agencies, and civil society organizations to strengthen the social pillar of sustainable development.

The Commission is preceded by the Civil Society Forum, which allows delegates from NGOs to exchange views on a main theme, and to adopt the Declaration to be presented at the first session of the Commission for Social Development.

Here is one key element of the 2017 Declaration:

Social protection is a proven, successful strategy to reduce all forms of poverty. Studies in Africa and Asia, for example, have indicated that cash transfer schemes show much faster results in poverty reduction than those expected from “trickle-down” effects of economic policies. Conversely, studies show that the risk of falling into poverty is very high where social protection floors do not exist. This illustrates the capacity of social protection policies as a tool of poverty prevention. It also holds promise to draw upon the wide range of talents and skillsets from all people, especially those who experience marginalization. As people are provided with opportunity, capacity for development is raised within a society, creating new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration.

Why is it important to be at this Commission? As the delegate put it so well, “We come here to tell our governments what we are doing [for social protection and poverty eradication] and to ask them to do more.”

As its main theme, the 55th Commission for Social Development had: Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All. The Commission’s agenda included reviewing programs and plans for youth, people with disabilities, seniors, and families. An emerging issue was also addressed: the eradication of poverty and youth in the Agenda 2030.

In addition, there were at least 57 side events, including the Morning Briefing for Civil Society. Examples of good practices, innovations, and promising programs fueled our exchanges and dialogue to develop policies in line with Agenda 2030.

This year, I was struck by the participation of young people, either in the delegations of the Member States of the Commission for Social Development, or in civil society organizations. One youth pointed out that prosperity (as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals) is different from economic growth.

If a major aspect of advocacy is adopted, I would propose that social protections should be ensured at all stages of life, since all citizens need to be guaranteed that social protections will be effective throughout their entire lives.