WYA’s advocacy team has been attending plenary sessions (official commission meetings) all week. This year’s commission theme is, “Affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness.” We’ve got the highlights from this week for you below. Read on!
Monday 10 February:
During opening statements, Olivia Tan Javi, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, stated that “it is necessary to address the problem of homelessness, since it is not a human luxury. However, it is a necessity that must be accessible to people of all socioeconomic classes. since it directly affects physical and mental health. These costs, slowly building,snowball into lowered economic productivity, social malaise and, perhaps most regretfully, a defeated and distressed generation.”
Laura-Maria Crăciunean-Tatu, Associate Professor at the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania, emphasized the importance of family and its impact on society. She discussed a case in which the family was housed separately, noting, “The serious impact of the family was based on the fact that the only option was to divide them. Mrs. Bellini [the mother] had to be in a different house from the father.”
During the plenary meeting, Croatia’s representative speaking for the European Union focused her speech on the challenging areas that EU countries face, including rising homelessness in many EU states.
Several speakers noted that there is no internationally agreed upon definition of homelessness.
Tuesday 11 February:
The panel at the event Family-friendly Policies and the Future of Work – Measures to Support Families, co-sponsored by Hungary, Poland, Brazil, and the United States.
During a side event titled “Family-friendly policies and the future of work – Measures to support families,” the National Secretary of the Family of Brazil expressed that family respect and recognition should be promoted internationally. Similarly, The Secretary said that the most important thing in the family is the relationship between its members. She explained that Brazil has incorporated family into all policy areas.
At the same event, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, Chief and Senior Adviser, Early Childhood Development, Programme Division, UNICEF (TBC) said, “Families need many kinds of support, however it is not obvious [what kind]. We must create enabling environments: Family friendly-policies. What are they? Allow parents (not just biological) to keep the well-being of children, to maintain balance; time; resources and services.”
Wednesday 12 February:
During the plenary meeting the representative of Costa Rica highlighted the achievements of his country in reducing homelessness focusing on their health care system offering health care for the immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. He also focused on the areas that his country could work more as engaging with the private sector with regard to the house sector in achieving affordable housing. Academic research in understanding the phenomenon and the international organizations support are the two other areas he stressed in working to reduce the homelessness.
WYA team members attended an event on Homelessness and Family hosted by the World Family Organization, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the Ministry of Women, Family, and Human Rights of Brazil, which stressed the importance of meeting the needs of homeless families.
Thursday 13 February:
In the plenary meeting, the representative of Egypt spoke about their country’s national house planning which aims to respect the environment. The state is responsible for implementing a plan of strengthening infrastructure and service. In 2014 Egypt, a project for house planning including 1.5 million housing, for all the community aiming to guarantee adequate housing for vulnerable groups. He also focused on the initiatives and plans implemented by his country in rehabilitating the slum areas.
During the plenary meeting, the representative of Colombia to the United Nations expressed that “Families play an essential role in achieving the process of social and productive inclusion of their members. For this reason, the family must be recognized as the fundamental nucleus of society, jointly responsible for the well-being of its members, in charge of establishing solidarity channels and stimuli for individual development.”
Senegal’s representative described that country’s approach to homelessness. Senegal has a law for 2026 for social housing that includes the use of social materials and environmental friendly strategies. National strategy for social protection that looks for inclusive social protection, universal health care coverage and territorial coverage balance.
WYA also attended two family focused side-events. “Family Homelessness: Prevention and Solutions” was sponsored by UN DESA Department of Inclusive Development (DISD), and co-sponsored by UN-Women, Safe Horizon, the NGO Committee on the Family, the City of Sao Paolo, Brazil, UNANIMA International, the International Federation for Family Development (IFFD), and the Doe Fund. Speakers highlighted ways to help the homeless, especially homeless families. Those involved in providing services stressed the importance of a holistic approach and seeing the person, not just their homeless situation.
During a side event an Indian motivational speaker on holistic strategies to ending homelessnes. If we all get education we can end homelessness mentioning Finland as a successful example in removing it completely.
Item E.GJ During a side event Mr.Harris focused on answering the following question “How do we support single-parent families to address and to prevent homelessness with a focus on at risk youths?” Collaboration is needed when focusing on the youth at risk. “When you use what you love to fight what you hate, collaboration is the key in ending homelessness.”
The Commission did not have any formal meetings, but continued to meet informally to work on its resolution on the affordable housing and social protection systems for all to address homelessness (the main theme).
Check back to our main CSocD58 page for more updates. Want to learn more about sustainable development? Read WYA’s white paper on the topic here.
Contributors: Ermelinda Gjeci, Paula Lopez, Mauricio Toledo, Maria Ramirez, and Faith Kabora, advocacy fellows.