Adequate Social Protections, Equal Employment Opportunities Vital to Eradicating Poverty, Say Delegates in Second Committee
Domestic job creation, education and social protection were crucial in strengthening national economic situations, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) heard today as it concluded its debate on the eradication of poverty.
About 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty, Indonesia’s representative told the Committee, while stating that progress in poverty eradication had remained uneven. If current trends continued, its eradication would constitute the biggest global challenge when the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty ended.
The representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO) said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require 600 million new jobs by 2030. Additionally, less than one-third of the world’s population had adequate social security coverage and more than half lacked any coverage at all. In response to that figure, she said the ILO provided guidance to Member States in expanding coverage for all while building sustainable and effective social protection systems.
Similarly, the representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said industrialization made poverty eradication achievable by providing decent jobs, especially for those with limited skills. Jobs in manufacturing tended to be more productive, offering higher wages, relative to occupations in agricultural and other sectors. From 1970 to 2014, manufacturing had created 257 million jobs in developing countries and those in transition, he stated. Additionally, evidence surveyed by UNIDO suggested that every job created in manufacturing induced two to three additional jobs in other sectors.
Although Thailand’s representative said her country achieved the Millennium Development Goal target on poverty, she said the social dimension of poverty pointed out the importance of enhanced social protections and equal employment opportunities for vulnerable people to enable sustained and inclusive development. To promote parity and improve education systems, she said her country had established an equality act to eliminate gender-based discrimination and provided 15 years of free education to schoolchildren.
As a result of assistance from development partners, Bhutan had reduced poverty by half and was expected to graduate from the least developed country category soon, said that State’s representative. To sustain those achievements, Bhutan planned a range of policy and economic measures including enhanced productive capacities, developed infrastructure, promotion of small businesses, increased youth employment, skilled training and gender equality.
Noting that there were 1 billion people with no access to electricity and 2.4 million people without adequate sanitation, Mongolia’s representative urged States to adopt multidimensional and integrated responses, including through tracking mechanisms with evidence-based policy interventions.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Mali, India, Brazil, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Nigeria, Timor-Leste, Bahrain, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Russian Federation, Nepal, Lesotho and Sudan.
Representatives from the Holy See, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 13 October, to discuss globalization and interdependence.
Mr. RAHMANTO (Indonesia), associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said progress in poverty eradication had remained uneven, with about 1.6 billion people still living in multidimensional poverty. If that continued, poverty eradication would still constitute the biggest global challenge when the second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty ended. The international community must continue raising awareness, including through the third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. The multidimensional nature of poverty required measures beyond economic growth, including efforts to build up human resources and sustainable livelihoods. Poverty eradication could only be achieved within a conducive and enabling environment. Variability of valid and reliable data was also important in the formulation of poverty eradication strategies.
ENKHTSETSEG OCHIR (Mongolia), associating herself with Group of 77, said development progress had been uneven across regions and countries. She said 10.7 per cent of the world’s population remained in extreme poverty. There were 1 billion people with no access to electricity, 2.4 million without adequate sanitation and 50 million children stunted due to malnutrition. She urged States to adopt multidimensional and integrated responses, including through tracking mechanisms with evidence-based policy interventions. She said poverty remained persistent with one in five persons living below the poverty line. Her country improved access to social services and promoted enabling environments for equity and rule of law. Regarding education, Mongolia’s 2016 human development report demonstrated that 99 per cent of children were enrolled in primary schooling and 96 per cent in high school. Turning to the economy, she said that it had grown at an annual rate of 8 per cent from 2011 to 2013, however recently growth had weakened partially due to the country’s reliance on mineral mining. To combat that trend, she said her Government would focus on economic diversification through jobs creation and skills training, particularly in rural and remote areas.
SASIYADA NAOWANONDHA (Thailand) said that, despite the eradication of poverty remaining high on the global agenda, more remained to be done in equalizing progress between countries. Though Thailand had achieved the Millennium Development Goal target on poverty, it nevertheless recognized the social dimension of poverty and pointed out the importance of enhanced social protections and equal employment opportunities for vulnerable people to enable sustained and inclusive development. To promote parity and improve education systems, her country had established an equality act to eliminate gender-based discrimination and provided 15 years of free education to schoolchildren. Furthermore, to protect citizens from impoverishment due to health reasons, Thailand now provided medical coverage to 99.87 per cent of its population. As an emerging donor country, her nation pledged its support and contribution to help in development issues between countries and was committed to working constructively with all stakeholders.
BAGNAME SIMPARA (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said the topic of poverty eradication touched on one of the root causes of the severe multidimensional crisis that had been affecting his nation since 2012 due to conflict, economic difficulties and food insecurity. Seeking a long-term solution to that crisis had remained at the heart of his Government’s priorities. It had developed a strategic framework for economic recovery and a medium-term guide to follow up on various development strategies. The guide aimed to strengthen peace and security and macroeconomic issues as well as stimulate institutional development, good governance and favourable growth that was pro-poor. The Government had also put in place a social safety programme, which included cash transfers targeting households affected by food insecurity.
SONAM TOBGYE (Bhutan), acknowledging progress on the global eradication of poverty, said, however, that it had had been uneven and therefore required the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For its part, Bhutan had sought to balance economic growth with social development, environmental sustainability and cultural preservation. His State had reduced poverty by half and was expected to graduate from the least developed country category soon, a result that was made possible with the support and assistance of its development partners. To sustain those achievements, his country planned a range of policy and economic measures including enhanced productive capacities, developed infrastructure, promotion of small businesses, increased youth employment, skilled training and gender equality.
SANTOSH AHLAWAT (India) said poverty had multiple, often interlinked, causes due to a host of factors including: lack of education and skills; disability or poor health; insufficient access to basic services; and social discrimination. One-sixth of the global population was Indian, thus her country worked hard to alleviate poverty through policies designed for the welfare of people and in benefit of national interests. Early gains included self-sufficiency in food production, improved access to education, affordable health care, a diversified economy and social reforms. Progress was also made in financial inclusion, including the use of digital technology to issue biometric-based unique identity cards for more than 1 billion citizens. The Government promoted a mobile phone scheme, small loans initiatives and education schemes for girls. Special attention was also paid to agricultural productivity and sustainable farming, large scale infrastructure projects, manufacturing and vocational skills training, solar and wind energy, rural electrification, health-care services and affordable housing.
PHILIP FOX-DRUMMOND GOUGH (Brazil), associating himself with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Group of 77, said that considering the multidimensional character of poverty, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 1 depended directly on the implementation of all Goals in an integrated manner. He highlighted the importance of integrating all relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process and having a multidimensional strategy based on a human rights approach that valued the empowerment of women and girls, decent jobs, access to food, health and education. In the context of Brazil’s efforts to eradicate poverty, women had played a central role in conditional cash transfer and housing credit programmes.
Ms. BAKURAMUTSA (Rwanda), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her country had reduced poverty by 4 per cent through an economic development and poverty reduction strategy focused on people. The only way to achieve the goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was through inclusive development, she said. That was particularly important in Rwanda as 70 per cent of the working age population were youth and more than half of the country’s population were women. In that regard, the support of the United Nation system and other international partners for the exchange and mobilization of resources would be crucial to national and international initiatives targeting poverty eradication.
MAHMADAMIN MAHMADAMINOV (Tajikistan), noting that the global poverty rate had been halved since 2000, said his country had brought down its rate significantly through poverty reduction strategies. However, the eradication of poverty was still among the priority areas for Tajikistan, which aimed to improve well-being and reduce poverty from 30 per cent in 2016 to 20 per cent by 2020. To eradicate poverty worldwide would require stimulating economic growth and building the resilience of those still living in extreme poverty. Addressing food and energy security as well as climate change could improve the living standards and well-being of those living in poverty. Social protection also needed to be expanded and risks mitigated if the global community was to eradicate poverty by 2030.
ARNOLD JACKSON (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country considered it expedient to evaluate the progress of poverty eradication globally. At the national level, poverty remained a key priority. His Government established various development interventions and initiatives to bridge the gender gap, address unemployment and strengthen human resource development. Priority was given to the diversification of the economy through non-oil export, infrastructural development, and strengthening the agricultural and mining sector and efforts to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). Noting the “N-power” programme that engaged 500,000 youth, he said the scheme would help in diversifying the country’s economy and bolster food security and self-sufficiency. Agricultural schemes targeted opportunities for women and youth, and included a “green initiative” among others.
JOAQUIM JOSE COSTA CHAVES (Timor-Leste), associating himself with the Group of 77, ASEAN and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said providing good quality education and health care for its citizens had become one of his country’s important strategies in reducing poverty since its restoration of independence in 2002. It had also been focusing on building infrastructure to support economic activities in the country. Poverty reduction could not occur without providing infrastructure that included an effective network of roads and bridges, efficient seaports and airports, reliable electric power and a telecommunications system, schools, clinics and hospitals. Through those strategies, the country had seen significant progress in basic education and health care, with net enrolment in school rising along with adult literacy rates. The infant mortality rate had declined by a quarter to 36 infants per 1,000 live births. Despite significant progress, he said rapid growth of the younger population, with at least 70 per cent under 25 years of age, posed specific challenges to development. The Government was developing a stronger non-oil economy through job creation, development of agriculture, tourism, fisheries and manufacturing as well as more investments in infrastructure.
Mr. ABDULRAHMAN (Bahrain) said his country attached great importance to the status of women, acknowledging their contributions and capabilities and working to advance them socially, economically and politically. Bahrain’s Constitution provided for women’s inclusion in many walks of life, including development. Women in the country had acquired many rights, setting a model to be followed. Harmonizing Government and citizen efforts had strengthened the process, which had positively contributed to advancement of women with achievements in all areas of life. Government policies and plans had provided women with access to financial resources, consultations and training.
Ms. HAMDOUNI (Morocco), associating herself with the Group of 77, said her continent continued to suffer from extreme poverty, especially those countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Accordingly, her country’s public policies increased the budget to strengthen the social sectors including in education, health, housing and support to youth employment. Priority was given to improve the living conditions of the disadvantaged population through proactive programmes, especially for rural women. Morocco adopted a strategic framework which included a participative approach, efforts to strengthen the democratic process and build a fair society and a robust economy, while generating lasting inclusive growth. Her Government undertook initiatives for human development, created a national human development observatory, established the “Green Morocco” plan and enhanced health care for those most vulnerable. Regionally, her country promoted South-South and triangular cooperation and mobilized public institutions for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.
ONISMO CHIGEJO (Zimbabwe) said progress made in reducing poverty had been inadequate and uneven as many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, continued to grapple with it. Limited financial resources remained among the major setbacks in efforts to eradicate poverty. His Government had made supporting the productive sectors of economy, mainly agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism, one of its priority focuses. It was seeking to increase domestic production, stimulate economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty. Currently, much effort was going towards improving capacity utilization across productive sectors. Quality education was also a foundation for economic growth, skills development, creation of employment opportunities and poverty eradication. In 2016, he noted that the Government had introduced a new education curriculum fostering entrepreneurial growth, innovation and equipping learners with the requisite knowledge and skills needed to stimulate economic growth.
DILYARA S. RAVILOVA-BOROVIK (Russian Federation) said the rapid development of technology had led to new types of poverty, namely poverty among the working population. A lack of opportunities forced people to refuse full-time employment and move towards semi-legal employment. That trend led to a loss of social guarantees and increased corruption. The human capacity development index had demonstrated unequal growth, thus she called for a greater multidimensional response to addressing the issue of the working poor. Her country had carried out several measures to ensure decent work conditions aimed at fair remuneration. Increased mobility and the changing nature of labour relations were addressed through partnerships with private businesses. She said her country was ready to share its experience in eradicating poverty in the working population. Regionally, the Russian Federation pursued several initiatives, including through financial contributions.
DILIP KUMAR APUDEL (Nepal) said it was alarming that more than a billion people were still living on less than $1.25 a day across the globe. Poor and limited physical infrastructure and a lack of access to resources and opportunities remained some of the fundamental constraints facing least developed countries in developing productive capacities and reducing poverty to reap the benefits of economic globalization. The international community must redouble its efforts with utmost sincerity. As poverty reduction had been at the core of Nepal’s development agenda for the last two and a half decades, it had made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and hunger. Extreme poverty had dropped from 33.5 per cent in 2000 to 16.4 per cent in 2015 and the percentage of people living below the national poverty line had dropped from 38 per cent in 2000 to 21.6 per cent in 2016. Under the current development plan, Nepal aimed to reduce poverty to 17 per cent by 2018.
KELEBONE MAOPE (Lesotho), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that about 793 million people were undernourished globally between 2014 to 2016, compared to 878.2 million between 2008 to 2010. The proportion of people in Africa living on less than $1.90 per day fell from 44.8 per cent in 2008 to 39.2 per cent in 2013. In least developed countries, extreme poverty fell from 43.6 per cent in 2008 to 36.3 per cent in 2013. Despite strong economic performance in Africa, such growth did not translate into significant reductions in poverty levels or job creation. He said the continent’s rapid growth remained too focused on exports of primary resources without value addition. He urged countries to support employment-intensive small and medium‑sized enterprises and pursue policies to assist the working poor. He noted that women continued to be denied equal pay for work of equal value, and were less likely than men to receive a pension. That trend translated into large income inequalities throughout their lives.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the “obvious antidote to exclusion was a concerted, strategic developmental focused on inclusion and participation” to eradicate poverty. He emphasized investment in early child development and in health and education. Policies to cut health and education spending to achieve “fiscal balance” had the unintended consequence of harming development because they had reduced investments in people, he said. As the 2030 Agenda stated, only through integral human development could poverty eradication be achieved. Another pathway out of poverty was the implementation and expansion of social protection policies such as pensions, child benefits and cash transfers to indigent families. Programs of inclusion “must have a preferential focus on women and girls” he stressed, since they are among the poorest.
Mr. ISMAIL MOHAMMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that progress in eradicating poverty was slower in sub-Saharan Africa. In that region, poverty remained the greatest challenge to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. He said 1 million Africans were living in poverty, which affected the development of the region. To address that challenge, his Government undertook several measures and development programmes, including through its 2015-2019 economic reform plan. His country also strengthened its national plan for the eradication of poverty, as led by the Ministry of Social Security which created a fund to employ youth, combat unemployment and provide microcredits and grants. The Government also allocated 30 per cent of its legislative and executive seats for women. As a developing country, Sudan’s debt burden remained a significant hindrance to development. The effects of climate change led to population displacement due to desertification and drought, and he said his country had recently emerged from domestic conflict. For its part, his country would undertake a population census to update national databases and ensure the development of better policies. He called for the international community to respect its commitment to support developing States through official development assistance (ODA).
HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), referenced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the second United Nations Decade for Eradication of Poverty, stressing the importance of the private sector solutions in the eradication of poverty. Fostering sustainable trade would be crucial, she said, as it would spur economic growth, raise living standards, fight poverty and protect the environment. Financial institutions could play a key role by providing trade finance, thus encouraging free markets and integrating emerging economies into global trade flows. Capacity-building would be key in adapting the workforce to a rapidly changing labour landscape, as well as improved education and skilled training. In addition, physical and digital infrastructure would all contribute to growth and attract investment. Concluding, she pointed out the important role the private sector played in resource mobilization.
AMBER BARTH, International Labour Organization (ILO), said achieving the Sustainable Development Goals would require 600 million new jobs by 2030, adding that the conditions of work needed to be improved as well. Poor job quality remained a pressing issue for workers in both developing and developed countries, especially for women who earned lower wages and had higher risk of being in vulnerable employment. She pointed out that less than one-third of the world’s population had adequate social security coverage and more than half lacked any coverage at all. The ILO recommendation 202 provided guidance to Member States in expanding coverage for all while building sustainable and effective social protection systems. Informal employment was another concerning issue which the ILO tried to provide guidance on within the wider context of rethinking and strengthening existing labour market policies. In particular, employment policies should be integrated within comprehensive macroeconomic policy frameworks tailored to country-specific needs and priorities, she said.
PAUL MASELI, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), noted that economic growth had occurred with a dramatic increase in the share of manufacturing employment and manufacturing value added in the economy in areas that had successfully reduced poverty, such as East Asia and the Pacific. In regions that had failed to reduce poverty or reduced it at a much slower rate, such as Africa, economic growth had occurred with a stagnant or decreased share of manufacturing employment and manufacturing value added in the economy. In those regions, economic growth had been resource-driven and unaccompanied by structural transformation. Industrialization made poverty eradication achievable by providing decent jobs, especially for those with limited skills. Jobs in manufacturing also tended to be more productive, offering higher wages, relative to occupations in agricultural and other sectors. From 1970 to 2014, manufacturing had created 257 million jobs in developing countries and those in transition. Additionally, evidence surveyed by UNIDO suggests that every job created in manufacturing induced two to three additional jobs in other sectors.
CARLA MUCAVI, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), noting that 779 million people lived in extreme poverty, said the World Bank reported that roughly two-thirds of the extreme poor lived in rural areas, primarily in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. She said the transformation of rural agriculture would not be able to meet the growing urban food demand without assistance of supportive public policies and investment. Policy actions should support access to credits and markets, while fostering environmentally friendly agricultural approaches and technological advancement that were adapted to local needs. Noting that the development of the agro-industry was a crucial element to connecting rural areas and urban markets, she highlighted challenges relating to youth unemployment. Many young people had left the agricultural market to pursue low‑paying, informal jobs in urban areas, thus she encouraged States to promote job creation in local economies. Similarly, she called for greater investment in infrastructure, such as roads and electricity, which would further bolster job creation.