Observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2011
Observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2011: "From Poverty to Sustainability- People at the Centre of Inclusive Development"

On October 17, the annual commemoration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Co-sponsored by ATD Fourth World, the NGO Sub-Committee on the Eradication of Poverty and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, over 200 people heard speakers from the United Nations system and people with first-hand experience of poverty from New York and New Orleans, address the theme of "From poverty to sustainability: People at the centre of inclusive development." The event also counted upon support from the Permanent UN Missions of Burkina Faso and France; whose ambassadors addressed the commemoration. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon also presented his message for the International Day by video.

The event took place in the build-up to next year's United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio+20. In this light, members of ATD Fourth World in New York City had held a People's University on the theme of sustainable development in September. Amber Lawrence, a People's University participant affirmed that; "Environmental degradation is often felt hardest by those with the least resources to combat it, but it doesn't mean that people are sitting back and accepting their situation. People in low income neighborhoods know through necessity how to get by on the little they have." This was also supported by the experience of families living in long-term poverty in New Orleans who had lived through hurricane Katrina. Lance Lewis told how many schools had yet to be rebuilt in the poorest communities, despite the importance that people in poverty attach to education. "School creates a development that is sustainable because it helps the community by helping people to get a diploma to keep moving forward."

The screening of a video entitled "5 Cents" from New York City-based organisation Sure We Can illustrated how people living in poverty contribute to sustainable development in their work recycling cans and bottles. The organisation provides a safe and dignified space for the canners to earn a livelihood by collecting the bottles and cans they collect and paying them the five cents redemption before returning them to the drinks companies.

The commemoration concluded with Donald Lee reading the message of the International Committee for October 17, urging policies and programmes for sustainable development to be formulated and implemented using the expertise and experience of all, including the most vulnerable individuals and populations. "Without their active and valuable participation in decision-making and implementation, we shall not be able to create a durable and truly sustainable world free from poverty and hunger. "

The second part of the celebrations of the International Day took place at the Salvation Army with an interactive panel discussion, bringing together ATD Fourth World members from New York and New Orleans, Ana Martinez de Luco, co-founder of Sure We Can, a representative of the Madagascan UN mission and chaired by Ejim Dike from the Urban Justice Center.

A number of the panel made links between the theme of inclusive development, which aims to leave no one behind in the eradication of extreme poverty and the emerging social movements around the world inspired by the Arab spring and particularly present in the occupation of Wall Street. In putting people before profits, working for the good of all and involving everyone in decision-making, the challenge was laid down by participants for all people in society to heed the message of the International Day. As Samantha Simpson explained, "The only way that we’ll start true sustainable development is if people can all come together, overcome our stereotypes and fears, and work together."

A call to action was proposed by panel participant Danielle Ashby to, "Let us look at each other, not to place judgment nor to point fingers but, to find our common humanity and dedicate ourselves, with each other, in the quest for a world that truly sustains us all.".

You can watch the entire commemoration on the UN Web TV : http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/10/observance-of-the-interna...

Attached are the Lyrics of the song composed and sang by Susan Mckeown (Grammy Award winner). She has been inspired by what irish people wrote in the book "Stories of Struggle and Solidarity".

Follow the link to read the Testimonies written at the Occasion of October 187th, 2011 in New York and New Orleans.