Social Issues



The RSCE2/6 Background Document "Social Issues", in English, French and Spanish.

We look forward to your comments or uploaded documents and an active discussion.



Comments On This Article

Philip Sigley at 03/02/2009 10:21:48:


Comments from UN secretary General on 2nd feb 2009 re infrastructure.

It is healthy, well-nourished and educated people who will drive development and prosperity on this continent. However, last year's dramatic rises in world food prices were especially hard on the poor. Nearly a billion people are going to bed hungry -– one in seven people on Earth.

We are encouraging a two-track approach at the global level to help those at immediate risk while tackling the underlying causes of the crisis. The High-Level Task Force I formed last May has proposed a Comprehensive Framework for Action that links improved nutrition, food security, agriculture, social protection, functioning markets and fair trade. In addition, I recently joined the Prime Minister of Spain in hosting a high-level meeting on food security last Monday which agreed on a number of steps to achieve this goal.

Africa should not have food shortages. I commend the African Union for establishing the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). I would be delighted if this process could be driven by African agriculture, and involve African Governments, farmers' organizations and businesses. Our Task Force will do all it can to help achieve this goal.

One of the immediate priorities must be to help smallholder farmers before the next planting season starts.

Climate change remains on the front burner of global concerns. Various studies have shown that Africa will be one of the regions most affected even though it has not contributed much to the problem. Our objective, however, should be seamless cooperation to tackle this problem by showing political will, providing resources and seeking an international treaty by the end of this year through the United Nations Framework Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Time is short to achieve these goals. This is why I regard 2009 as the year of climate change. I trust that recent steps taken by African countries to adopt a coherent approach on climate change will enable them to participate actively in the forthcoming negotiations.

I welcome your choice of infrastructure as the focus of this Summit, as infrastructural development is key to economic growth and social progress. Africa needs good roads, schools and hospitals; as well as reliable and efficient water services, electricity grids and telecom networks; while information and communication technologies must also be a bigger part of Africa's future. These remain the building blocks for job creation and the ability to compete in global markets.

Infrastructure development is an opportunity to go green. Greater use of renewable energy would increase access and protect against climate change. Geothermal energy in the Great Rift Valley; solar energy in the Sahara; hydropower and rainwater harvesting; these all have great potential to create jobs and lay the groundwork for tomorrow's low-carbon economy.

Given the large number of small and landlocked countries, and shared resource belts, regional approaches to providing infrastructure are essential. The various African river basin initiatives are a good first step in this regard. There is a great benefit to be derived from the economies of scale that cross-border cooperation brings. This should be complemented by public-private partnerships, building of indigenous scientific and technological capacities and tangible investments in education.

The MDG Africa Steering Group, which I established after attending the African Union Summit here in Addis Ababa two years ago, has estimated that $52 billion in public and private investment would be needed annually to address Africa's critical infrastructure needs. All of us should support the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa's efforts to mobilize these resources. Investing in Africa's infrastructure is a cornerstone of Africa's development. We must rededicate ourselves to this vital objective.

Africa's strong commitment to improving governance including through the African Peer Review Mechanism has contributed to the consolidation of peace and security and improved economic management. I strongly urge you to forge ahead in this constructive path. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I shall continue to call on Africa's development partners to fulfil their commitments to the continent, even in this time of crisis.

With your strong leadership, matched by strong partnership from the international community, Africa will be transformed for the better in the future.

Philip Sigley at 21/01/2009 16:02:19:

Powerpoint to go with narrative submitted earlier and are very relevant document for the discussions on social issues:


Philip Sigley at 21/01/2009 16:00:41:

The key problem on social issues and delivering results to farming communities is intertwined with consumer and civil society expectations of the mainstream cocoa trade and industry. Mainstream markets represent the best opportunity to lift people out of poverty and to meet MDGs. Many governments, donors and CSOs choose not to embrace the mainstream marekts positively and take a too simplistic view of niche market performance without considering widely the damage that could be inflicted on poor people by artificial markets. Where we can make a collective difference is in social infrastructure if delivered in a non competitive framework where the financial responsibility and burden is passed through the supply chain and breaks the link with philanthropy - i.e. it becomes normal business. In return we must work with donors and cocoa communities to ensure that results are delivered actually to cocoa communities and not swallowed up in budgetary assistance and bureaucracy. I attach a system idea for your consideration - ambitious but achievable. Can apply to other commodities. Will post a powerpoint later.


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