12. Delivering social protection and essential public services for all. To end poverty in all its forms everywhere and finish the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals, we commit to a new social compact. In this effort, we will provide fiscally sustainable and nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, with a focus on those furthest below the poverty line and the vulnerable, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, children, youth and older persons. We also encourage countries to consider setting nationally appropriate spending targets for quality investments in essential public services for all, including health, education, energy, water and sanitation, consistent with national sustainable development strategies. We will make every effort to meet the needs of all communities through delivering high-quality services that make effective use of resources. We commit to strong international support for these efforts, and will explore coherent funding modalities to mobilize additional resources, building on country-led experiences.
23. We recognize that the ability of the small island developing States to sustain high levels of economic growth and job creation has been affected by the ongoing adverse impacts of the global economic crisis, declining foreign direct investment, trade imbalances, increased indebtedness, the lack of adequate transportation, energy and information and communications technology infrastructure networks, limited human and institutional capacity and the inability to integrate effectively into the global economy. The growth prospects of the small island developing States have also been hindered by other factors, including climate change, the impact of natural disasters, the high cost of imported energy and the degradation of coastal and marine ecosystems and sea-level rise.
24. As it is vitally important to support the efforts of small island developing States to build resilient societies and economies, we recognize that beyond the rich ecosystems of those States, people are their greatest resource. In order to achieve sustained, inclusive and equitable growth with full and productive employment, social protection and the creation of decent work for all, small island developing States, in partnership with the international community, will seek to increase investment in the education and training of their people. Migrants and diaspora communities and organizations also play an important role in enhancing development in their communities of origin. Sound macroeconomic policies and sustainable economic management, fiscal predictability, investment and regulatory certainty, responsible borrowing and lending and debt sustainability are also critical, as is the need to address high rates of unemployment, particularly among youth, women and persons with disabilities.
25. We affirm that there are different approaches, visions, models and tools available to each country, in accordance with its national circumstances and priorities, for achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions, which is our overarching goal. In this regard, we consider the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication as one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development. We call upon the United Nations system, in collaboration with other stakeholders, to strengthen its coordination and support of small island developing States that want to pursue green economy policies.
26. We acknowledge that the implementation of sustainable development depends primarily on national action and leadership. We recognize that the private sector plays an increasingly important role in achieving sustainable economic development, including through public-private partnerships. We recognize that sustainable development will also depend, inter alia, on intergovernmental and international cooperation and the active engagement of both the public and private sectors.
27. Taking into full account their national development priorities and individual country circumstances and legislation, we call for support for the efforts of small island developing States to take the following actions:
(a) Enhancing international cooperation, exchanges and investments in formal and non-formal education and training to create an environment that supports sustainable investments and growth. This includes the development of entrepreneurial and vocational skills, support for transitions from basic to secondary education and from school to work, the building and strengthening of education infrastructure, better health, active citizenship, respect for cultural diversity, non‑discrimination and environmental consciousness for all people, including women, youth and persons with disabilities;
(b) Enhancing the enabling environment at the national and regional levels to attract more public and private investment in building and maintaining appropriate infrastructure, including ports, roads, transportation, electricity and power generation and information and communications technology infrastructure, and also enhancing the development impact of the private sector and the financial services industry;
(c) Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, building capacity and increasing the competitiveness and social entrepreneurship of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and State-owned enterprises in small island developing States, as well as encouraging inclusive and sustainable industrial development with the participation of all people, including the poor, women, youth and persons with disabilities;
(d) Supporting national, regional and international initiatives that develop and increase the capacity and development impact of the financial services industry in small island developing States;
(e) Creating local decent jobs through private and public projects and encouraging entrepreneurs to start up environmentally sound businesses through adequate and appropriate incentives;
(f) Promoting and fostering an environment conducive to increased public and private sector investment and the creation of decent jobs and livelihoods that contribute to sustainable development, with full respect for international labour standards;
(g) Promoting and enhancing the use of information and communications technologies for, inter alia, education, the creation of employment, in particular youth employment, and economic sustainability purposes in small island developing States;
(h) Promoting and enhancing gender equality and women’s equal participation, including in policies and programmes in the public and private sectors in small island developing States;
(i) Setting national regulatory and policy frameworks, as appropriate, that enable business and industry to advance sustainable development initiatives, taking into account the importance of transparency, accountability and corporate social responsibility.
28. Acknowledging the way in which debt servicing limits the fiscal space of highly indebted small island developing States, we support the consideration of traditional and innovative approaches to promote the debt sustainability of highly indebted small island developing States, including their continued eligibility for concessionary financing from international financial institutions, as appropriate, and the strengthening of domestic revenue mobilization.
29. We acknowledge the importance of addressing debt sustainability to ensure the smooth transition of those small island developing States that have graduated from least developed country status.
105. We recognize that, three years from the 2015 target date of the Millennium Development Goals, while there has been progress in reducing poverty in some regions, this progress has been uneven and the number of people living in poverty in some countries continues to increase, with women and children constituting the majority of the most affected groups, especially in the least developed countries and particularly in Africa.
106. We recognize that sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth in developing countries is a key requirement for eradicating poverty and hunger and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. In this regard, we emphasize that national efforts of developing countries should be complemented by an enabling environment aimed at expanding the development opportunities of developing countries. We also emphasize the need to accord the highest priority to poverty eradication within the United Nations development agenda, addressing the root causes and challenges of poverty through integrated, coordinated and coherent strategies at all levels.
107. We recognize that promoting universal access to social services can make an important contribution to consolidating and achieving development gains. Social protection systems that address and reduce inequality and social exclusion are essential for eradicating poverty and advancing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. In this regard, we strongly encourage initiatives aimed at enhancing social protection for all people.
Decision 4/2. Combating poverty
1. The Commission on Sustainable Development takes note of the report of the
Secretary-General on combating poverty (E/CN.17/1996/9).
2. The Commission reiterates all the decisions made at its third session on
the issue of combating poverty.
3. In accordance with commitment 2 of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social
Development 6/ adopted by the World Summit for Social Development, the
Commission urges Governments to formulate or strengthen, as a matter of urgency
and preferably by the end of the International Year for the Eradication of
Poverty (1996), national strategies to eradicate absolute poverty and reduce
overall poverty. Such strategies should be comprehensive in order to address
all aspects of poverty and integrate gender perspectives, and should also be
geared towards substantially and sustainably reducing overall poverty in the
* Chapter 3 of Agenda 21. For the discussion, see chapter III below.
6/ Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen,
6-12 March 1995 (A/CONF.166/9), chap. I, resolution 1, annex I.
shortest possible time, reducing inequalities, and eradicating absolute poverty
by a target date to be specified by each country in its national context. In
addition, the Commission recommends that Governments integrate environmental
issues in such strategies and ensure that they are related to national
sustainable development strategies, while recognizing that economic growth is a
fundamental element of sustainable development. Such strategies should be
supported by the international community, which should assist developing
countries, including through international organizations, in their efforts to
achieve the overall goal of eradicating poverty and ensuring basic social
4. The Commission recognizes that meeting the basic human needs of all and
eradicating absolute poverty is an objective of the highest priority that has
been regarded as such in all the recent United Nations conferences convened
since the World Summit for Children in 1990. In addition to the relevant
conferences and conventions mentioned in the report on its third session, 5/ the
Commission welcomes the Beijing Platform for Action of the Fourth World
Conference on Women. 7/ The Commission notes, in particular, the important
role played by women in poverty eradication strategies and the particularly
difficult situations that they face, as described in chapter IV.A of the
Platform, as well as the importance of integrating gender perspectives in
policies and programmes. The Commission welcomes the preparatory work for the
forthcoming United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), which
emphasizes the importance of achieving the eradication of absolute poverty, the
reduction of overall poverty and the creation of sustainable human settlements
for ensuring sustainable development.
5. Since the general problem of poverty in developing countries, particularly
in the least developed countries, is related to political, economic and social
marginalization, all efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and reduce overall
poverty within the context of sustainable development must be accompanied by
mechanisms that would effectively address those issues.
6. The Commission suggests to the Economic and Social Council that in its
future work the Commission focus its attention on the interlinkages between
poverty and the environment, taking into account the fact that poverty is a
complex multidimensional problem with origins in both the national and
international domains, and recognizing that economic development, social
development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually
reinforcing components of sustainable development.
6. Combating poverty
73. The Commission welcomes the Copenhagen Declaration on Social
Development 7/ and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social
Development. 8/ With reference to combating poverty, it takes note, in
particular, of commitment 2 of the Declaration 9/ in which Governments commit
themselves to the goal of eradicating poverty in the world, through decisive
national actions and international cooperation. The Commission recalls that the
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 6/ embodies the principle that
eradicating poverty is an indispensable requirement of sustainable development,
and that all States and all people shall cooperate in this essential task. The
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 10/ in its section on
commitments, 11/ and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification
in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification,
particularly in Africa, 12/ in its preambular section also recognize that
economic and social development and poverty eradication are the first and
overriding priorities of the developing countries and are essential to meeting
sustainability objectives. This was reiterated in the recent decisions of the
first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change held in Berlin. The Commission further notes that
in all the major United Nations conferences held since 1990, including the World
Summit for Children, the International Conference on Nutrition, the World
Conference on Human Rights, the International Conference on Population and
Development and the World Summit for Social Development, there has been a
recognition of the need to launch a global attack on poverty and commitments
made in recognition of that need. The forthcoming 1995 World Conference on
Women should similarly emphasize the importance of women in strategies to
74. The Commission stresses that the link between poverty eradication and
sustainable development is complex and must be clearly understood. People
living in poverty, with their meagre consumption, are also often reduced, by
their lack of income and command over productive resources and their social
exclusion, to eking out a precarious existence on marginal and ecologically
fragile ecosystems where they often live under life- and health-threatening
circumstances as well. The Commission is deeply convinced that economic
development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent
and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development, which is the
framework for efforts to achieve a higher quality of life for all people.
Equitable social development that recognizes empowering of the poor to utilize
environmental resources sustainably is a necessary foundation for sustainable
development. Broad-based and sustained economic growth within the context of
sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social
75. The Commission affirms that economic growth will continue to be important
to combat poverty in the long run particularly in developing countries, but
reliance cannot be placed on economic growth alone to combat poverty. There is
an urgent need to formulate or strengthen policies and strategies geared to
substantially reducing overall poverty in the shortest possible time, and
reducing inequalities, and to eradicate absolute poverty by a target date to be
specified by each country within its national context. Such strategies should
also incorporate measures to ensure environmental sustainability. The essential
task of eradicating poverty is an indispensable requirement for sustainable
development. Strategies aimed at poverty eradication are also necessary to
prevent the overexploiting of natural resources out of sheer survival
strategies, which leads to the degradation of resources required to sustain
populations over the long term.
76. The Commission stresses the need for a multidimensional and integrated
approach towards the goal of poverty eradication in partnership with all actors
of civil society. To this end, national strategies should be geared towards the
implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme
of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, in particular commitment 2
of the Declaration and chapter II of the Programme of Action. National budgets
and policies should be oriented, as necessary, to meeting basic needs, reducing
inequalities and targeting poverty as a strategic objective. The Commission
further stresses that the promotion of full employment and the sustainable use
of resources is an essential requirement for combating poverty and promoting
social integration. The Commission notes that this is the primary
responsibility of States themselves. Governments must create an enabling
economic environment aimed at promoting more equitable access for all to income,
resources and social services. The Commission recognizes that women, as
constituting the majority of the people living in abject poverty, and who bear a
disproportionate share of the burden of poverty, must be a central focus of
poverty eradication efforts. It also urges the introduction of programmes that
would focus on the specific needs of children and youth, consistent with the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. 13/ The Commission also recognizes
that full participation of people living in poverty in the design, planning and
implementation of projects aimed at the eradication of poverty would help ensure
effective implementation of such strategies.
77. The Commission urges Governments to reaffirm, promote and strive to ensure
the realization of rights contained in relevant international instruments and
declarations, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 14/ the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 15/ and the
Declaration on the Right to Development, 16/ including those relating to
education, food, shelter, employment, health and information, particularly in
order to assist people living in poverty. The Commission also recognizes the
need to promote, as regards people living in poverty, access to - and
opportunity for - food, water, employment, shelter, education, health,
information, transportation and other essential public services. People living
in poverty must be enabled so as to have access to productive resources and
sustainable livelihoods, including credit, land, education and training, and
technology. They should also be empowered to participate in the formulation and
implementation of the policies and decisions affecting them.
78. The Commission reaffirms that a favourable international economic
environment, and the critical provision of financial and technical assistance
flows, are essential catalysts towards poverty eradication. Better terms of
trade, better access to markets, particularly for labour-intensive products, for
agricultural and agro-based products, and for those of medium- and small-scale
enterprises, access to and transfer of environmentally sound technology on
favourable terms, including on concessional and preferential terms, as mutually
agreed, taking into account the need to protect intellectual property rights as
well as the special needs of developing countries are therefore also important
conditions for sustainability. An effective, equitable, development-oriented
and durable solution to the external debt problems of heavily indebted least
developed and other low-income countries, particularly sub-Saharan countries,
would be helpful to free up resources for programmes aimed at the eradication of
poverty. Transfer of environmentally sound technologies is also indispensable
for the adoption of sustainable production patterns both in industry and in
agriculture. The Commission also stresses that activities geared towards
eradication of poverty should be accompanied by meaningful programmes that aim
to substantially reduce environmentally and socially unsustainable patterns of
production and consumption.
79. The Commission stresses the need for the public accountability of private
80. The Commission reiterates the need for full implementation of the
commitments, agreements and targets agreed upon by the international community
aimed at the eradication of poverty. The Commission calls upon Governments, the
international community, including the United Nations system, and IFIs as well
as non-governmental organizations to pursue implementation in this context of
commitment 2 of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and chapters II
and V of the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, and
chapter 3 of Agenda 21.
81. The Commission recommends that the Economic and Social Council, when
considering a common framework for the implementation of the outcome of United
Nations conferences in the economic and social fields, examine how to ensure
synergy and cooperation between the Commission on Sustainable Development and
other functional Commissions with responsibilities in the area of poverty
eradication, including consideration about the proper division of labour among
82. The Commission suggests to the Economic and Social Council that in its
future work the Commission on Sustainable Development focus its attention on the
linkages between programmes aimed at poverty eradication and sustainable
development deriving from Agenda 21 and the Copenhagen Declaration on Social
Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development.