Reviving and Refreshing the WORLD SOCIAL SUMMIT

by | Apr 4, 2024 | News, Vincentian Family at the U.N.

Nearly 30 years ago, 171 heads of State met in Copenhagen at the United Nations World Summit for Social Development. In 1995 it was the largest gathering of world leaders ever assembled, attended by more than 14,000 people, including delegates from 186 countries, with 117 represented at the level of Heads of State or Government. At the Summit, Governments pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of social integration overriding objectives of development. At the conclusion of the Summit, Governments adopted a Declaration and Programme of Action which represented a new consensus on the need to put people at the centre of development – in order to advance social development through 10 commitments. The Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and its Programme of Action have guided multilateral action on social development ever since.

Meeting with the Deputy Secretary-General March 15, 2024. Left to right: MaryAnn Dantuono, Tiffany Connolly, Dr. Ify Ifong, Amina J. Mohammed, Jackie Shapiro, Jean Quinn and Jim Claffey.

Following this initiative, the UN focused on poverty eradication in the Millenium Development Goals and more recently the Sustainable Development Goals. However, as we near the 30th Anniversary of the Copenhagen Declaration and Platform for action and pass the midpoint of the SDGs or Agenda 2030, the goal of poverty eradication remains elusive. In fact, poverty and inequality are increasing and the world’s poorest and most vulnerable are experiencing the worst effects of global challenges. (The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023

This is not news for Vincentians who work tirelessly with people in poverty to create exits to poverty and eliminate systemic causes of poverty, one of which is homelessness. This year marks a new initiative at the United Nations. On the 26th of February, 2024 the General Assembly passed A/78/261, to create a Second World Social Summit. In the same session the General Assembly passed a second Resolution on Homelessness A/78/236 Inclusive policies and programmes to address homelessness, calling for a second report in 2026 on homelessness by the Secretary General updating progress on this issue. In the report of the Secretary-General 78/211 in preparation for this session of the General Assembly, he pointed out the need for bold and transformative action to revive progress and achieve both the goals of Copenhagen and the SDGs.

The momentum to address poverty is palpable at the UN. In order to take advantage of this momentum and to address homelessness, the Working Group to End Homelessness met with the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed to explore ways to incorporate homelessness into this agenda. At a very productive meeting on March 15, attended by members of the Executive Committee: Jim Claffey, Tiffany Connolly, MaryAnn Dantuono, Jean Quinn, Jackie Shapiro, and organized by Dr. Ify Ofong, (Lydia Stazen was in Mongolia and participated in the preparation, but was unable to attend the in-person meeting) we developed a strategy to closely link homelessness and the poverty agenda. This strategy will include establishing a “group of friends” (Member States who will champion this agenda), advocating for an official United Nations observance day for global homelessness, encouraging the reporting of disaggregated data collection on homelessness by Member States at the national, regional and international levels, establishing a UN interagency working group on homelessness and finally working toward including homelessness and civil society at both the Summit of the Future in 2024 and the 2nd World Social Summit in 2025.

This opportunity will require increased activity and engagement in many ways by the Working Group to End Homelessness and the Vincentian Family. Our commitment is high and we believe that the 2025 World Social Summit will reinvigorate support for the commitments made in Copenhagen, aligning with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and our efforts to end homelessness, while mobilizing collective action on the worlds most urgent social issues. Join us with your prayers and stories of your good works.