Africa must build a new social contract for sustainable development – Claver Gatete

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A new social contract that will promote fair and equal opportunities for citizens is essential to accelerate sustainable development in Africa, the new Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Claver Gatete, told a meeting of experts and policy makers which opened this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Governments must increase their commitment to forging new social contracts that guarantee equal rights and opportunities for all, while integrating employment, sustainable development and social protection,” said Mr. Gatete, in a speech delivered by the Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of ECA. Hanan Morsy, at the opening of the fifth session of the ECA Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender, which was held under the theme Building new social contracts in Africa: choices to meet the aspirations of development.

The Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender is an intergovernmental body composed of experts and policy makers that provides guidance and advice to the Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division of ECA on its work and engagement with Member States.

Building a new social contract

UN Secretary-General Antoìnio Guterres has proposed a “new social contract for a new era”.

Mr. Gatete said building a new social contract for Africa’s future requires focusing on levers to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. High-quality education and lifelong learning can serve as catalysts to advance multiple goals, he said, noting that the effectiveness of education in building new social contracts depends on affordability, accessibility and applicability, which can make education policies more effective, equitable and inclusive.

“Education can be made more affordable by providing subsidies and cash transfers that can ease the financial burden on the poor,” Gatete said, stressing that education programs can be redesigned to improve quality, strengthen institutional credibility and align education with employable skills. .

Stressing that Africa’s future will be significantly influenced by climate change, demographic shifts, rapid urbanization and digital transformation, the Executive Secretary said how these trends are managed will determine whether these trends are beneficial or detrimental to the continent. In Africa, social spending on health and education is below the levels recommended by the WHO and UNESCO.

A whole-of-society approach will foster a virtuous circle of trust between the government and the population, resulting in policies that guarantee equal opportunities, promote intergenerational mobility and reduce poverty, Gatete said, calling for the identification of measures urgent and practical. measures that improve the efficiency of public spending and promote more inclusive development, to support the establishment of a new social contract in Africa.

Speaking at the meeting, the outgoing President of the Fourth Bureau, Dhaoui Mohamed of Tunisia, paid tribute to the ECA and the secretariat of the Bureau of the Division of Gender Poverty and Social Policy for their support to the program “ leave no one behind.”

He said that the theme of our fourth session “Building better towards an inclusive and resilient future in the context of COVID-19” and the conclusions and action-oriented recommendations of the Committee were a powerful illustration of the individual and collective resolve of the African continent. governments to translate the 2030 Agenda into actions and results, whatever the challenges posed by the convergence of crises.

“The time has come for our continent to tackle historic inequalities and injustices and build new social contracts focused on greater inclusion and sustainability,” Mr. Mohamed said.

The new chair of the fifth session of the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender, Florence Ayisi of Ghana, said African governments and other stakeholders must mobilize to implement social contracts, anchored in human rights, in order to rebuild trust and social cohesion. She noted that the great malaise in Africa has its origins in persistent poverty, hunger, lack of access to health care and education, income insecurity, growing inequalities and injustices as well as the lack of trust in institutions.

Ms. Ayisi urged governments “to accelerate actions to save the SDGs and leave no one behind by adopting resilient, sustainable, inclusive and climate-resilient development pathways in a transparent and inclusive manner.”

Source: European Court of Auditors

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