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World social work agenda agreed in Hong Kong

Plans to give social work a global political voice have taken another step forward with agreement on proposals for an agenda to tackle deepening economic and social crises across the world.

Details of how the ambitious global agenda will be drawn up and promoted were unveiled on the last day of the World Conference on social work in Hong Kong, where more than 2,000 delegates engaged in debate about how best to give social work a prominent role in solving the world’s problems.

“The global consultation on the Hong Kong Agenda will support our continuing lobbying world-wide to promote the achievements of the social work profession,” said David Jones, outgoing president of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW), who will be the IFSW special representative on taking the agenda forward.

The consultation process for the global agenda, a draft of which will be ready in time for World Social Work Day next March, will have four main themes:

  • Economic and social inequalities within countries and between regions;
  • Dignity and worth of the person;
  • Environmental sustainability;
  • Importance of human relationships.

Before the next World Conference, in Stockholm in 2012, the agenda will be submitted to the United Nations secretary general, as well as being handed to governments and regional world bodies.

The Hong Kong conference’s keynote address was given by UN under-secretary general Sha Zukang, who issued social workers with a call to action on global poverty. Gary Bailey, elected as the new IFSW president, said social work’s “major contribution to solving human problems” remained largely unrecognised across the world.

Mr Bailey added: “The global agenda process shows that the profession is determined to work with other interested parties to ensure that the contribution of social work is recognised and that social work plays a positive role in responding to the global economic and social crisis affecting people everywhere.”

The World Conference was organised jointly by the IFSW, the International Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Council on Social Welfare.