Our History & Activities

The NGO Committee on Social Development was founded in 1998, soon after the Copenhagen UN World Summit for Social Development (March 1995). At that Summit, governments reached a new consensus on the need to put people at the center of development and pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the achievement of full employment, and the fostering of social integration the overriding objectives of development.

Civil Society organizations working at the UN founded the NGO Committee on Social Development to work toward the achievement of the World Summit for Social Development goals and to continue reviewing UN progress toward those goals notably by actively following and preparing the UN Commission on Social Development. Committee members are currently active in the articulation and promotion of SDGs and Agenda 2030 helping align our advocacy work on social development with the activities of the UN High Level Political Forum.

Additionally, the NGO Committee works with other entities such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women, UN DESA (UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs), and other specialized bodies and agencies; it also monitors the work of the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (the UN’s Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Committee). In 2020, the NGO Committee joined the NGO coalition to End Violence and Harassment in the World of Work to call for universal ratification of the International Organization (ILO) Convention 190 of the same name, after its historic adoption in 2019.

Committee members engage in advocacy around social issues, submit position papers, make oral and written interventions, serve in Expert Groups, collect examples of best practices from constituencies, publish studies, and create / submit petitions.

The Working Group to End Homelessness focused its advocacy work for three years to bring the issue of Homelessness to the Commission’s agenda. Its work came to fruition when the Commission on Social Development, under the theme “Affordable Housing and Social Protection to End Global Homelessness” (February 2020) passed the first UN resolution ever calling on member states to work towards that objective.

Two former subgroups were very active in their specific areas: the Subcommittee on the Eradication of Poverty was very influential in the UN’s recognition of the importance of the need for a Social Protection Floor, while the Working Group on Poverty and Climate Change helped pave the way toward the recognition of linkages between poverty and climate change.

In partnership with UN DESA and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation, the NGO Committee on Social Development hosts the Civil Society Forum which creates a special space for Civil Society to interact with states members of UN Commission on Social Development and other multi-stakeholders (such as the Club de Madrid). In 2021 the Civil Society Forum was held virtually with interactive panels of multi-stakeholders, networking sessions and daily briefings by the members of the Executive Committee of the NGO Committee. 

The Committee also drafts an annual Civil Society Declaration on the priority theme, which is formally presented by the NGO committee chair(s) at the opening session of the Commission. During the 59th session (2021), our Civil Society Declaration on the theme “A Socially Just Transition to Sustainable Development: the role of Digital technologies on social development and the well-being of all” was open to public signature and was signed by over 700 organizations and individuals.

Let’s put people at the centre of development and pledge to make the eradication of poverty, full employment, and social integration the overriding objectives of development.