What you need to know about the 58th Commission for Social Development

Member States at the first plenary meeting of the Commission on Monday, February 10, 2020.

WYA works to promote human dignity in policy and culture. One way we do that is through participating at UN events. This month, we’re at the Commission for Social Development. Want to know more? Read on!

What is social development and why does it have a commission?

Social development is one of the three pillars of sustainable development. (The other two are economic development and environmental protection.) Social development takes a holistic approach to development, and focuses on poverty eradication, job opportunities, and social inclusion. This reflects the idea that development is only successful if everyone has a part in it.

The Commission for Social Development (CSocD) has had different responsibilities since it was created in 1966, but today its job is to follow up on the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. That document was agreed upon in 1995 at the World Social Inclusion Summit. Like many other UN bodies, it also connects its work to the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015. (Learn more about sustainable development by reading WYA’s white paper.) The Commission’s 58th meeting is being held February 10-19, 2020, at UN Headquarters, New York.

How does the Commission work?

The Commission meets each year to discuss topics related to social development. This year the theme is “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.” CSocD will discuss different aspects of homelessness, its causes and possible solutions, and encourage Member States to adopt policies to reduce homelessness. They will also negotiate and adopt a resolution on this theme. They sometimes adopt other resolutions as well. Resolutions are not binding (they don’t make law), but they can influence development funding and priorities.

How does this connect to WYA’s work? 

WYA promotes person-centered development. CSocD is an opportunity to address Member States and UN bodies about what we think is necessary to promote development policies that are grounded in human dignity. Every human being has dignity, and so authentic development should make sure to respect the dignity of every person. As WYA’s Declaration on Development puts it:

Authentic development is a process that takes place at all levels of society creating a social, political, and economic environment that allows persons to reach their full physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional potential.

For that reason, WYA encourages efforts to make sure that everyone’s basic needs are met, particularly in health and education. Human creativity is our greatest resource, and individuals, families, and communities all have a role to play.

What is WYA encouraging the Commission to do?

WYA is encouraging the Commission to keep people at the center of development. We welcomed the inclusion of education focused on human dignity at last year’s Commission (read last year’s press release), and are asking our partners to ensure that it is there again. We are also encouraging Member States to include the family in the resolution. As WYA’s Declaration on the Family states:

The family sustains society as it gives life to the next generation. It also has the privilege of forming free and responsible citizens, thus securing democracy. As the fundamental unit of society the family ensures the sustainability of civilization and culture. It takes on essential tasks in the care of all and especially the weakest and most vulnerable.

What’s next?

We’ll be sharing some updates and details as the Commission progresses, reporting on events and sharing WYA’s perspective on various elements.