This session will focus on clarifying the role of social development in achieving sustainable development, paying particular attention to how social policies can drive economic and environmental sustainability. Within the existing SDG framework, it will explore how social development community can strengthen the social pillar and dimensions of sustainable development: Goal 1 – 6 (poverty, hunger, health, education, (gender), water and sanitation) and social dimensions of goal 8 (employment and decent work), Goal 10 (inequality) and Goal (16 (peaceful and inclusive society). In addition, discussion will focus on how we can effectively address social dimensions of the economic and environmental pillars, as well as the interlinkages among three dimensions of sustainable development.
- In which areas positive synergies (win-win situation) between social and economic, and social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development can be created? What are effective policy tools to enable this (i.e., decent work, social protection, green jobs, etc.)
- How to manage potential conflicts or perceived trade-offs between social and economic and social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development? What are effective approaches (what needs to be done) to manage them?
- What will be the most effective mechanism to strengthen social pillars of sustainable development? What conceptual framework can be most useful to strengthen social dimensions of sustainable development in a more coherent and integrated manner?
Summary of Comments
Thanks so much to all colleagues participating in the third week of these policy dialogues, under the tittle: Social development and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.
Your contributions have helped to advance our understanding about the many challenges of advancing social development through the implementation of the post 2015 agenda.
As revealed by the very good contributions received so far, a global agenda for sustainable development brings to the fore the complex interactions of the various dimensions of the development process. It is difficult to think about sustainable eradication of poverty without sustainable and inclusive economic growth, or without resilient communities to economic and environmental risks. Some of you also raised the difficulties of achieving fast, sustained and inclusive economic growth without well functioning education and health systems for all or without well-functioning institutions. But the achievement of sustainable progress in the economic, social and environmental fields also requires active participation of people in decision making and strong institutions to guide transformative changes in the way economies and societies operate.
One conclusion we can probably draw from the conversation in the third week is that social inclusion and environmentally sustainable communities require well-functioning economies, active participation of people on issues of public concern and strong institutions to lead transformational change.
In the discussion, I sensed wide recognition about the opportunity that the concept of sustainable development brings to tighten the policy inter-linkages among the various dimensions of development. In everyday life societies are not divided between economic, social and environment fields; they all interact simultaneously. When we go to work, we are contributing to economic growth, but we are bounded by a social contract that defines our pay, benefits and social interactions; and in the process of producing goods and services we use (or mal use) the natural environment. Thus, the only way public policy decisions contribute to keep a good balance among these different dimensions is by taking explicit consideration of the multiple interactions that are taking place.
Policy choices will have to incorporate an explicit recognition of the impact of policy decisions on the economy, the society and the environment. Leveraging synergies across policy areas and reducing negative impacts will be a must in the implementation of the post 2015 development agenda. Strengthening national policy dialogues through the use of tools that help assess the direct and indirect impact of policy decisions will be important to facilitate active participation of the multiple actors whose actions will determine the future of sustainable development in each country context. Governments, the private sector, communities, and individual citizens will all play a role in shaping the future their societies. Their individual actions will be consistent if there is a shared vision and clear recognition of the opportunities and costs of a country specific strategy for sustainable development.
I think we all agree that we have a powerful conceptin the notion of sustainable development and the challenge now is to transform this powerful concept into a new policy reality.
In this week’s discussion there were very useful examples posted on areas where positive synergies (win-win situations) can be developed in the areas of education, technology, energy, social protection, infrastructure, green jobs, agriculture, migration, water and sanitation, the environment and more.
Initiatives such as the green jobs, energy for all and many others, provide options to enhance synergies across the three dimensions of sustainable development. The most difficult challenge, however, will be redirecting all aspects of public policy under the new framework of sustainable development. Take the example raised by the various contributions in the area of education. Very successful experiences of countries that have achieved nearly universal access to primary education and well developed institutions of higher education are nowadays confronted with the challenge of building better synergies across the whole spectrum of the educational system. Improving the quality of basic education received by all childrenand expanding access to quality secondary education is essential to improve the insertion of young people into the labor market. But the curricula of secondary education must also be adapted to build the skills required by young workers in the new economic realities of a globalized world. Similarly in the case of tertiary education; it must be adapted to respond to the need of strengthening the capacity of countries to innovate through a R&D agenda relevant to the needs of micro, small and medium enterprises, which are the largest source of employment in developing countries.
Several postings referred to the positive contributions of social protection policies, helping to achieve multiple objectives simultaneously. This is the case, for example, of conditional cash transfer programmes which increase family income thus reducing poverty and economic vulnerability at the same time as helping to improve school attendance and health. Other programmes of social protection are linked to the creation of employment with multiple impacts on reducing poverty, improving the employability of workers, increasing food production and rural infrastructure. More recent programmes highlighted this week are linking poverty reduction with environmental sustainability, as in Bolsa Verde in Brazil. New concepts are emerging, such as “eco-social-policies” which according to one of the postings aims at providing incentives to make sustainable management of environmental resources at the same time as improving the resilience of individuals and communities.
I am sure we can extend the analysis of policy of inter-linkages to many other themes: food security and agricultural development; the nexus across energy, land, water and sanitation; or the links between social protection, health, education, and labor market insertion. The challenge we have going forward is to reconsider all areas in the development process, all policies to be implemented in order to identify their inter-linkages, enhance positive synergies and reduce possible negative impacts.
Through a very short one week conversation, it is clear there is a lot to be learned from one another. Development cooperation in all its forms (South-South, North-South, Triangular) and multi-stakeholder cooperation will be essential. Strengthened mechanisms for regional and global cooperation will be most critical to sustainable development
We thank you for participating in this first conversation on these issues and look forward to continue working with you.
Some examples of effective policies
- Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation
- Busan Partnership for effective development cooperation
- Green Growth Knowledge Platform[GGKP]
- UNRISD Policy Brief on Social Drivers of Sustainable Development
- Rio+20 global Synthesis Report prepared drawing on over 50 National Reports
- UNDP publication “Social Protection, Growth and Employment: Evidence from India, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Peru and Tajikistan”, which aims to explore how social and economic policies can be better integrated to simultaneously advance social welfare, employment outcomes and inclusive growth.
- Further information on green jobs can be found in the following publications:
- Working towards sustainable development: Opportunities for decent work and social inclusion in a green economy. International Labour Organization, 2012.
- Green jobs for women and youth: What can local governments do?, UNDP, 2013.
- Green jobs for the poor: A public employment approach. UNDP, 2009.
- Documents (not yet in English) on water and financing agent's responsibility focused on sustainability, with some proposals for Brazil
Additional global reports of relevance
What drives institutions to adopt integrated development approaches?