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Value of community social work highlighted as UN warns of 'development emergency'

High-level meeting could lead to closer links between social work and UN development agenda

Photo of video call between Rory Truell and Amina Mohammed
IFSW Secretary-General Rory Truell (left) and UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed (right)

Published by Professional Social Work magazine 7 September 2020

The United Nations has warned of a “development emergency” due to the covid-19 pandemic pushing more people into poverty and said social workers will have an important part to play in responding to it.

In a video meeting with the International Federation of Social Workers, Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, recognised that the knowledge social workers and professional associations bring of local communities and local and national government would be crucial in community development efforts going forward.

“If you don’t work at the local community level you don’t have a foundation to build upon,” she said.

Speaking during a video meeting with the International Federation of Social Workers she expressed her thanks to social workers for their efforts during the crisis so far.

“We owe them our thanks”, she said.

Rory Truell, secretary general of the IFSW, said community aspiration and social work’s role in facilitating it needed to be closer linked to global development goals.

He said: “Social workers recognise communities’ strengths and informal systems of care and we assist them to develop further capacity to lead their way own way out of poverty and exclusion and to new futures of social and economic development.”

The meeting saw an agreement for further talks to look at bringing together the role of social work in communities with the UN’s global development agendas.

IFSW president Silvana Martinez said: “This meeting advanced the need to co-build social transformation with communities, especially vulnerable people, along with local, national and global policy.

“The meeting also affirmed the critical importance of social work to every society in advancing all people’s rights. We welcome working with the United Nations and all partners and co-building a world build on equality and social, economic and environmental sustainability.”

Martinez said the talks also reflected the outcomes of the IFSW's consultation on the 2020-2030 Global Agenda for Social Work.

This article is published by Professional Social work magazine which provides a platform for a range of perspectives across the social work sector. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the British Association of Social Workers.