28 September – In this episode, UNRISD presents its most recent publication “Combating Poverty and Inequality” at its launch event in Geneva, on September 3rd.
Please use the link to the right of this page to access the podcast. (6mins 17secs, MP3 file, 5.76mb)
Transcript of the podcast
You’re listening to the UNRISD podcast, and my name is Daniel Salvo. Today’s episode features coverage of UNRISD’s 2010 Flagship Report launch event that took place on September 3rd
, here at Geneva’s Palais des Nations.
The report, entitled Combating Poverty and Inequality: Structural Change, Social Policy and Politics
, is the result of five years of research.
During the event, co-hosted by the United Nations Office at Geneva, scholars, and members of the diplomatic community, and staff from international organizations and NGOs discussed the report’s message that sustainable reduction of poverty and inequality requires integration of economic, social and political domains.
UNRISD Director Sarah Cook explains why the organization was well suited to write the report.
UNRISD was, I think, uniquely positioned to undertake such an enquiry, given what are perhaps its two greatest assets. First, it has an autonomous status as an independent research institute within the UN system. As the Secretary General noted in his foreword to the report, this status allows the institute wide latitude to study sensitive topics, question mainstream policies and institutional arrangements, and propose alternatives. Second, UNRISD has exceptional capacity to mobilize researchers in universities and other centers around the world in order to collectively focus on issues of common global concern.
More than a hundred and thirty researchers from forty countries contributed to the report. UNOG Director-General, Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze, said the report’s findings could help achieve the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.
Sergei A. Ordzhonikidze:
It is our sincere hope that world leaders can take stock of these original insights and fresh policy initiatives to deliver on their commitment to development, and in particular, the MDGs.
Sarah Cook also presented the report at an MDG Summit partnership event in New York, where world leaders gathered to review progress on the goals, before their deadline in 2015.
Let me address the key messages of the report.
That’s Yusuf Bangura, UNRISD
Research Coordinator and lead author of the report.
These emphasize the importance of employment-centered growth and structural change, comprehensive social policies that lean towards universalism, the imperative of tackling inequalities, the importance of effective states and politics, and the need to address synergies and complementarities among institutions and policies.
Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, valued the report for focusing not only on economic growth but also on social and cultural development.
Despite ample proof of the close linkages between human rights violations and poverty, the notion that development must take precedence over attention to human rights challenges somehow persists. This is a fallacy. Development and poverty eradication must be rooted in human rights. To be equitable and sustainable, development policies must empower people and enable them to claim their rights. This very important UNRISD report shares this perspective and underscores that poverty is not confined only to economic deprivation but extends to social, cultural and political deprivation as well.
Thandika Mkandawire, London School of Economics Chair in African Development and former UNRISD director, said the report’s publication demonstrated the organization’s value.
One thing this report does is to illustrate the importance of institutions like UNRISD within the UN system, that the UN system does need space for reflection and for long-term thinking about its agenda.
UNRISD was created in 1963 as an autonomous agency. That means it seeks its own funding and provides an independent voice while still being part of the UN system. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, the Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at UNDESA addressed the major questions UNRISD raised in its report.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram:
We need to think whether our measures of poverty are adequate. There are some very serious challenges to how we understand and measure poverty. And secondly, we should really think about what we have been doing to address poverty, to reduce poverty. Whether these policies and programs are the best we are capable of, whether there are single best practices or one-size-fits-all solutions, or if not, what does it actually mean. These are very important questions that I think you have raised in your report.
Vicente Paolo Yu III, Head of the Global Governance for Development Programme at the South Centre, said that nation-states should consider the report’s examinations of development strategies.
The report is a model of clarity in identifying both the failure in current approaches to development and poverty reduction and in identifying elements that need to be addressed in order to achieve a development pattern that is economically sustainable and socially inclusive.
It is UNRISD’s hope that the report will be taken into account not only to achieve the MDGs, but also to shape the post-MDG development agenda.
For more information, or if you are interested in downloading or purchasing the report, go to our website, www.unrisd.org
. If you have any suggestions for future podcasts, email us at email@example.com
. Thank you for listening.
For UNRISD news, this is Daniel Salvo, in Geneva.