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“Catalysts for social change”: Panel Discussion at the Commission for Social Development

20 Feb 2014


“Catalysts for social change”: Panel Discussion at the Commission for Social Development
“We need to identify the catalysts that will drive change in all three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental dimensions.”

With these words UNRISD Director Sarah Cook began her moderation of the panel discussion on the social drivers of sustainable development, held at the 52nd session of the Commission for Social Development in New York on 14 February 2014. As the Chair, Ms. Sewa Lamsal Adhikari, pointed out, the panel discussion represented an opportunity for the Commission to contribute to shaping the post-2015 development agenda.

The entire panel discussion was recorded and is available on UN Web TV. The timing of the key contributions is provided in the table below.

The session was designed as an interactive debate with Members of the Commission, following a keynote speech given by Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning. In her presentation, Ms. Mohammed stressed that the benefits of growth would not necessarily trickle down to those who needed it most, and therefore, a defined policy of inclusion must be pursued. Achieving true inclusion would require transformations on national, regional and international levels, she said.

Sarah Cook then made some brief points to introduce the discussion. She presented different social drivers of change identified in the Note by the Secretariat accompanying the session, which was drafted with significant input from UNRISD. Of the drivers discussed in the Note, Ms. Cook identified institutions as the most amenable to policy and legislative change, whereas social structures like gender, race and caste would require a longer-term approach.

Sarah Cook also stressed the need to move social policy out of its current role as a safety net to mitigate the negative social impacts of policies for economic growth. Instead, she said, we need first to ask social questions about justice, inclusion and participation in our societies, and then design economic, social and environmental policies which will deliver better outcomes across all dimensions.

After stimulating presentations by the other panel members, an interactive dialogue followed, with contributions from delegates from the European Union, Namibia, Brazil, HelpAge International, the Russian Federation and Sudan.

For more information from UNRISD on the social drivers of sustainable development, see the Beyond 2015 Research and Policy Brief on the issue, and the background note on which the Brief is based.

SpeakerPositionTiming of intervention
Ms. Amina J. MohammedSpecial Adviser of the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning6.14 – 18.32
Ms. Sarah CookDirector, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development21.17 – 29.35
Mr. Magino CorporánDirector of the National Council for Disability of the Dominican Republic31.30 – 48.31
Mr. Rudi DelarueDeputy Head of Unit for External Relations and Enlargement at the European Commission, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion50.29 – 1.09.28
Dr. Heide HackmannExecutive Director, International Social Science Council (ISSC)1.11.45 – 1.31.20