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Social work expertise is now crucial to world peace

David Jones

The world needs more social workers and more community social work if global goals for sustainable progress are to be met.

That was the message delivered at a gathering of social workers from across the world in Dublin looking at how to address the major social, economic and environmental challenges of our times

Issues including environmental instability, migration, inequality, poverty and the rise of popularism were discussed.

The four-day conference saw the launch of a major report by three global social work organisations.

Called Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability – Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development, the report is based on contributions from social workers and service users across the world.

Highlighting its key messages, BASW member David Jones, who edited the report, said: “We have picked up the changing economic environment in which you work and the changing balance of the economy which has driven nationalism and popularism, Trump and the disaster of Brexit.

“We warned the world if you do not deal with inequality there are consequences and the consequences we now see and we have to work on them.”

Referring to the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), which include reducing inequality and action on climate change, Jones said: “If the SDGs are implemented we will need to expand the number of social workers to deliver social protection. They are not there and governments are not planning for that.”

Social work practice also needed to respond to the global challenges, including the impact of global warming and economic and political changes, he added.

“Looking at the implications for practice, community work needs to be brought back to the centre of our work in social work.”

The report was produced by the International Association of Schools of Social Work, the International Council on Social Welfare and the International Federation of Social Workers.

In was launched at the International World Social Work, Education and Social Development Conference attended by more than 2,000 social workers from 100 countries.

In a joint statement, the three bodies said: “In the challenging times facing the world today, our expertise in social work and social development is now crucial to world peace and development.”