Social Inclusion, Poverty Eradication and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Organization(s): UNRISD
Author: Esuna Dugarova
Year: 2015
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The concept of social inclusion, also referred to as social integration or social cohesion, represents a vision for “a society for all”, in which every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role to play (Report of the World Summit for Social Development, 1995). While various definitions have been developed to describe social inclusion, they all have been grounded in the promotion of a normative vision of society, in which individuals, groups or institutions are interconnected within a wider social system, and their relationships are maintained and enhanced in a harmonious way.

This paper refers to social inclusion as a goal, process and outcome. As a universal goal, it aims to achieve an inclusive society that entails respect for human rights, cultural diversity and democratic governance, and upholds principles of equality and equity. As a process, it enables citizens’ participation in decision-making activities that affect their lives, allowing all groups to take part in this process, especially marginalized groups. As an outcome, it ensures the reduction of inequalities, elimination of any forms of exclusion and discrimination, and achievement of social justice and cohesion.

This paper argues that there are three key interrelated areas that are critical for poverty eradication and inclusive development, which include (i) universal social protection; (ii) meaningful participation; and (iii) social and solidarity economy. It discusses some of the main issues related to these areas and provides examples of best practices at the national level that have been implemented during the UN Decades for the Eradication of Poverty.

The paper concludes that it is unlikely that development will be sustainable unless it is inclusive. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development thus needs to be an inclusive plan of action, pursuing the goal of leaving no one behind in a way that meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to participate in the processes that impact their lives. Social policies that promote practices based on universal rights-based entitlements, equal and meaningful participation, as well as norms of solidarity and reciprocity, while paying due respect to diversity and the environment, are more likely to enable social inclusion. It is therefore necessary to move away from the use of social inclusion schemes as remedial action towards making them an intrinsic part of broader and coherent development strategies. Government interventions in the form of enhancement of productive capacities, improved access to quality social services, adequate social protection and decent work are crucial to achieving socially inclusive, broad-based and sustainable development.


Related Principles

Ensure Meaningful and Effective Participation

Meaningful and effective participation of rights holders must be a key component of any social protection system. This is what builds trust and public support behind schemes and ensures that there is a sense of ownership. The participation of right holders is important during the social protection policy making processes but also as regards the […]

Social Protection and Human Rights