New York, 11 February 2011

United Nations, North Lawn Building, Room 6

The European Commission, persistent poverty remains a huge concern in sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the region and the Government of Finland are pleased to invite you to the presentation of the second edition of the European Report on Development (ERD 2010/2011) in the context of the 49th Session of the United Nations Commission on Social Development.

Despite Africa’s generally positive economic performance in recent years and the progress it has registered towards certain Millennium Development Goalsremains susceptible to a wide range of internal and external shocks which leave people vulnerable and force them to adopt coping strategies that can undermine their opportunities to escape from poverty.

For example, the World Bank estimates that the 2007-2008 food crisis plunged 30 million more Africans – and up to 105 million people worldwide – into poverty. Looking to the future, the recent economic and financial crisis may jeopardise sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by the 2015 deadline.

What can be done to protect existing gains, further combat poverty, and promote resilience to unexpected shocks?

According to the second edition of the European Report on Development, the answer lies in social protection, which is climbing up the African and international policy agenda. Evidence reveals that social protection has made a significant historical contribution to eradicating abject poverty in Europe and other developed regions.

But can it achieve the same sort of results in sub-Saharan Africa? Can it also promote broader developmental and social objectives, such as social cohesion and inclusive growth? If so, how can this be achieved and funded? What is the role of African countries and what can the EU and other donors do to support home-grown initiatives?

Program of the Side Event

13h15 – 13h30: Welcome Address
Francesca MOSCA, European Commission, Director for Quality of Operations, EuropeAid Development and Co-operation Directorate-General, European Commission

13h30 – 14h: Presentation of the ERD 2010/2011
Giorgia GIOVANNETTI, European University Institute (EUI), ERD team leader

14h – 14h30: Independent comments
Commissioner B. P. GAWANAS, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission
Timo VOIPIO, Senior Adviser on Global Social Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland
Jane STEWART, Director of the International Labour Organisation (New York Office)

14h30 – 14h45: Open debate with the audience
The side event will be moderated by Ambassador Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations.

Background

The ERD seeks, in close cooperation with developing partner countries, to enhance the EU’s perspective on development issues on the basis of independent knowledge excellence, innovation and enhanced bridges between top-level academics and policy-makers. The initiative is supported by the European Commission and seven EU Member States (Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom). State fragility in sub-Saharan Africa was the central topic of the first edition of the ERD, which was released in October 2009.