The European Commission organised in Brussels on 24 February a major conference on Social Fairness in Sustainable Development for a Green and Social Europe. The conference gathered policy makers, researchers, representatives of international organisations, social partners and civil society organisations to explore whether and how sustainable development and social cohesion can be achieved simultaneously.
Fintan Farrell, Director of EAPN, contributed to the final plenary session of the conference. He reiterated that the very notion of sustainable development implies the necessity to achieve social progress and social cohesion. However he stressed that the conference was part of an important development to bring together the worlds of social and environmental development.
He insisted on the “importance of addressing the social dimensions of environmental policies and the need to maintain and develop a strong social policy in its own right”. He added that “Poverty proofing in environmental policies takes on particular importance with the increasing prioritisation of responding to climate change as an objective in its own right and as a way to respond to the current economic crisis”. Notions such as “environmental justice” and “economic justice” were raised at the conference.
In drawing conclusions, Director General for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Nikolaus van der Pas said that the conference had demonstrated that social justice and environmental protection are possible to achieve in tandem but this is not without difficulties and acknowledged that “Better monitoring and impact assessment are needed if we are to make the desired progress and that the EU must mobilise for social and sustainable development”.
If you wish to know more about the conference, see the event’s webpage.