Mr. Chair,

1. I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

2. At the outset, I would like to congratulate you on assuming the Chair of the Commission for Social Development. We wish you and your Bureau a successful session and we assure you of our full support and cooperation.

3. Also, allow me to thank the Secretary-General for his reports which will contribute to inform and enrich our deliberations.

Mr. Chair,

4. Building upon earlier work and discussions on the matter, the 57th session of the Commission will review issues and strategies for tackling the challenges of inequality and social inclusion. These are of the utmost importance to the Group 77 and China. Here, we wish to reaffirm that addressing inequality in all its forms is essential to eradicating poverty, advancing social progress and ensuring sustainable development. We believe it is also critical to promote social cohesion so as to create an environment for development and sustain peace.

5. The Group remains deeply concerned that more than 20 years after the adoption of the World Summit for Social Development, progress has been slow and uneven and major gaps remain. Current trends reflect that income inequality has persisted or even increased within many countries, undermining efforts to eradicate poverty.

6. In addition, environmental degradation and climate change exacerbate inequality by overexposing the poorest and most vulnerable among them as they tend to have fewer means to cope and adapt.

7. The Group wishes to reaffirm that these trends challenge our ability to meet the commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its overarching pledge to leave no one behind and put the furthest behind first. They alert us that accelerated collective and transformative efforts are urgently needed.

8. The Group recalls that the 2030 Agenda calls for reducing inequality within and between countries, achieving gender equality, as well as promoting inclusive, just and equitable societies to empower people and in particular for the most vulnerable. We believe that these goals should be placed at the center of policy debates and policy-making on inequality at national, regional and global levels.

Mr. Chair,

9. The Group of 77 and China wishes to underscore the need for action-oriented and integrated policies to tackle all aspects of inequalities and challenges to social inclusion. This is essential to ensure that all people can equally participate in and share the benefits of economic development in a sustainable manner.

10. Moreover, the Group believes that fiscal, wage and social protection policies can significantly contribute to reducing inequality. We would like to reiterate the importance of sustained investments in inclusive and quality education and health services, as well as in critical and resilient infrastructures and connectivity, particularly in rural areas. Policies need to redistribute resources so as to decrease inequalities across territories, within urban centers and between urban and rural areas.

11.We also want to underscore efforts to strengthen social protection systems. Well-designed, inclusive social protection policies and programs that address protection needs throughout the life cycle, can greatly contribute to reducing poverty, income inequality and social exclusion while building human capital and strengthening people's resilience to economic, social, and climate-related shocks.

12. The Group of 77 and China also acknowledges the importance of adopting effective and progressive tax systems, alongside efforts to diversify economies and revenue sources, and combat tax evasion. Efforts to reduce informal employment and to make labor markets more inclusive, including addressing wage discrimination against women, youth and other disadvantaged and marginalized social groups, protecting worker's rights and elimination of exploitation are equally paramount. The Group believes that the creation of productive and decent jobs, and entrepreneurship, particularly for women and youth, is vital and should remain a major focus of policy choices for reduced inequality and poverty.

13. In this context, we also want to reiterate our commitment to leave no one behind. Fiscal, wage and social protection policies should fully factor in the specific needs but should also encourage the full potential of disadvantaged social groups, including children, youth, women, informal workers, older persons, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and other people who are vulnerable or in vulnerable situations. The Group stresses that policies should strive to empower them both as beneficiaries and agents of change in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Mr. Chair,

14. Having addressed the above, the Group 77 and China wishes to acknowledge that there is no "one size fits all approach." The Group notes that National capacities, including institutional and financial capacities, to fight inequality also differ. We would like to reaffirm the importance of respecting each country's policy space and priorities to implement measures for reducing inequalities and poverty.
15. Our debate on inequality and social exclusion challenges and policy options should firmly remind us of our commitments to remove obstacles to the full realization of the rights of peoples to self-determination in all cases where it is applicable, in particular those living under colonial and foreign occupation and other forms of alien domination, which continue to adversely affect their socio-economic development, with full respect to national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States.

16. The Group of 77 and China would also like to reiterate the fundamental role of international cooperation, North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation and renewed partnerships to support national efforts to fight inequality and eradicate poverty.

17. The Group stresses the importance of scaling up the mobilization of resources towards sustainable development, including Official Development Assistance (ODA), innovative finance sources, capacity building, technology transfers and trade among others, as well as addressing external debt sustainability and that all should be carried out on fair and reasonable terms and conditions.

18. In addition, the Group also strongly supports the Social Agenda of the New Partnership for Africa's Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

Mr. Chair,

19. The Group 77 and China wishes to reaffirm, once again, the critical role of the Commission for Social Development in advancing action for social progress and the eradication of poverty through promoting the Program of Action of the Copenhagen Summit, and commend the Commission's commitment to place the fight against inequality and exclusion at the forefront of its work. Likewise, we fully appreciate the contribution of the Commission to the follow-up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the SDGs within its existing mandate and we trust that the discussions and recommendations of the 57th session of the Commission will greatly contribute to the 2019 High-Level Political Forum under the theme of "Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality."

Thank you.