How social investment can contribute to the development of sustainable societies

Last week we participated in the Francqui International conference 2014: "The EU's fifth project: Transitional governance in the service of sustainable societies".

Our President, Heather Roy, spoke in the panel "How can social investment contribute to the transition?". She reminded delegates that a few weeks ago with ETUC, CONCORD and the European Environmental Bureau we launched the second Manifesto of the Spring Alliance, in which we looked at the political priorities not only from a social / employment and environmental perspective, but also within the broader development policies, beyond the EU. No ones denies that sometimes there are tensions between environmental and social actors, but we are all convinced that the social situation and the environmental deterioration are big challenges for the future. The impact of the one on the other cannot be ignored any more. Unfortunately very few politicians are able to make the link between the two.

In Europe we now have a divergence when it comes to the social situation. We need to look at standards but we do not need to lower them. The Europe 2020 strategy was an ambitious agenda for the EU with the objective to steer European and national policies towards a smart, inclusive and sustainable growth. Now we are working towards the mid-term review of this strategy. We can see that there is a fundamental conflict between the Europe 2020 and economic governance. This becomes evident when you look at who has the power.

From the practical approach of social NGOs, we could wonder if social investment works. We would like to see a more balanced approach between the universal and targeted approach. Social investment policies shouldn't be interpreted in a way that allows them to weaken social protection. This was also supported by professor Vandenbroucke.

Social investment should also have a rights-based approach. All people need to have access to services, education, employment, need to have the right to live in dignity and to be protected from discrimination.