Statement of Nordic Countries
Commission for Social Development
8 January – 17 February 2021
Delivered by Minister of Social Affairs and Health of Finland, Ms. Aino-Kaisa Pekonen
Ms. Chairperson, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Government of Finland aligns herself with the statement made by Portugal on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
I have the honor to deliver this Statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.
We are committed to a just transition that delivers improvements in the economic and social conditions to the people and societies all over the world. We are committed to an economy of wellbeing.
The 2030 Agenda and sustainable development goals remain a shared vision to end poverty and promote shared wellbeing and decent work for all, while respecting the planetary boundaries. We have a duty to ourselves and to future generations. We must ensure that social dimension is fully integrated in the implementation of Agenda 2030 at all levels.
In the spirit of the Agenda 2030, we need to work across sectors and redesign our policies to secure the wellbeing of both the people and the planet. In doing so, we honour our global and regional commitments. We find it important to focus on socio-economic inequalities. A just transition must treat everyone equally. Equitable access to digital technologies plays a key role in ensuring social inclusion and development, decent work, as well as wellbeing of all.
The economic, labour and social rights, gender equality and social inclusion of all groups including women, youth, older people, LGBTIQ-persons, Roma and persons with disabilities are all closely linked. By investing in wellbeing, social security, decent work, education and skills, we invest in the human capital and our economies.
The social and economic shock from the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased unemployment and poverty, affecting lives and livelihoods of people around the world. Despite this, we have a strong belief that it is possible to protect the people and safeguard economies and societies at the same time. There is no one magic bullet. We need to apply well-tested methods combined with new and innovative solutions. And most of all, we need to work together. This means a renewed commitment to multilateralism, engagement with communities and working with partners, both with the private sector and the civil society.
The just transition needs to be designed and implemented in a way that is fair to all genders and all generations. In our view, the technology can provide a pathway to a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive future for all. To make this possible we have to ensure decent work, accessibility, ease of use, reliability and digital skills for everyone.
To support people in working life transitions, we have to ensure decent work and a human-centered future of work, in line with the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work. A well-functioning social dialogue, at national and global levels, is essential.
The Nordic model, including the tripartite cooperation with the social partners, has ensured quick adaptations to structural changes. Adapting to new ways of working is one. Facilitating fair transitions to new jobs is another. In order to improve the labour market matching, we have to update workforce’s knowledge and skills, including when it comes to displaced workers.
The pandemic has revealed new underlying inequalities. Some people are systematically more exposed to the shocks than others.
The demographic structure in many countries, including Nordic countries, continues the shift towards older age groups. The increased average life span is a success story of our societies. Meanwhile, we must promote actions that guarantee the good health and functional capacity and resources of older persons. In this context, we would call for the active implementation of the UN’s Decade on Healthy Ageing. We must recognize and cherish older persons’ contribution as members of their communities and families, volunteers, care givers, consumers, to name some.
Persons with disabilities, elderly, women and young people have been, and still are, severely affected by the pandemic. We are highly concerned with the disruption to education, in most severe cases leaving children permanently outside the system. The isolation has increased the threat for domestic violence and abuse. Also homeless persons and minority groups are experiencing hardship in protecting themselves and in access to services.
The pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for actions to ensure the fulfilment of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities obligations and the centrality of a human rights based approach. While ensuring the protection and safety of persons with disabilities and elderly in situations of risk, we have to take into account also their diversity. Our objective is to build inclusive, equal and socially sustainable societies. A dialogue with the civil society organizations is important.
Technology is an essential part of our daily lives and policy tools. Digitalization and technological innovations are supported by political and economic investments. Therefore, they should also contribute to the universal social protection and social equity. The Nordic and Baltic countries are committed to improving possibilities for studying or using health services across borders digitally.
The Nordic countries cooperate across the Action Coalitions of Generation Equality to promote the rights of women and girls, including their sexual and reproductive health and rights. We are striving for bold actions to make sure that digitalization and the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic do not widen the gender gap.
This year, as Chair of the Nordic Council of Ministers, Finland will shine a light on building back better. In the context of COVID-19, we will highlight issues relating to disability leadership and the impact of the pandemic on mental health.
The Nordic vision for the 2030 focuses on sustainability, democracy, decent work, gender equality, welfare and inclusion – by working together.
Now it is my great pleasure to give the floor to our Youth Delegate.