- Conference Conclusion

- Andrej Hunko, from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Germany) pointed out the strong contradiction between poor and the well-off and highlighted goverment’s social responsibility to fight poverty.

- Jón Sĉmundur Sigurjónsson, senior advisor from the Ministry of Welfare from Iceland highlighted that "a well developed social welfare system is an excellent indicator of how our society fights poverty."

Key messages to tackle poverty and inequalities

  • You cannot rescue crisis-hit economies without tackling the social dimension, highlighted Jean Lambert MEP (UK, The Greens). She added that we need antidiscrimination legislation.
  • There are several European countries which did not accept the revised European Social Charter. So, it is necessary that these countries accept the international legal obligation to fight poverty - stressed Luis Jimena Quesada (European Committee of Social Rights)
  • We have to base our work on an intergenerational approach – we cannot fight against poverty inequalities and find solutions only for today, said Anne Coote (New Economics Foundation)
  • The impact of measures to solve the effects of the crisis are not discussed with the people. The efforts and creativity of people in poverty to face constant difficulties are not recognised, highlighted Isabelle Perrin (ATD-Quart Monde))
  • We need a social policy that respects social knowledge which is based on the participation of people and NGOs having direct experiences concerning poverty, said Fintan Farrell (EAPN). He mentioned water access is necessary to fight effectively against poverty. He also referred to the ’Water is a Human Right!’ ongoing European Citizen’s Initiative (ECI)

EPHA focused on the workshop about ’Avoiding waste and making resources accessible’

Background: Resources are lacking and sacrifices are needed. It is necessary to address the bad management of resources and their accessibility. About 30% of food produced in Europe goes to waste and approximately 930 thousand homes remain unoccupied in the United Kingdom alone.

Waste is pervasive. It needs to be recognised as one of the causes of economic inequalities.

The aim of the workshop was to point out how the adoption of more responsible and participatory approaches in the production, consumption and management of both material goods and community spaces can help address deprivation and social exclusion.

A new paradigm about resources is key not only for environmental but also for social sustainability. Guidelines can be broken down into two strands: how to establish a fairer use of resources and how to promote a social re-birth of resources. In this framework, changes are necessary for different actors at all levels: public administrations, businesses and citizens, but in particular we are interested in how public authorities can support existing initiatives.

EPHA’s contribution to the workshop

- EPHA stressed that it would be worthwhile comparing data related to poverty with health data, as evidence shows that [1] Poverty inequalities are strongly linked to health inequalities, the lower someone is on the socioeconomic scale the worse their health status is likely to be. These inequalities can be avoided by tackling socio-economic determinants (e.g. education, employment, and housing) leading to poverty and poor health. This can also help address the overall health of the wider population.

- EPHA briefing on health inequalities

- Proposals arising from the debate on the workshop

1. To recognise the paradox between crisis-hit societies with increasing levels of poverty and the huge amount of waste of all type of resources (material, cognitive, social, human) we generate every day

2. To raise public awareness that producing waste is not a sustainable process. Children and women and other vulnerable groups are especially hit by this problem.

3. To develop a strategy to use abandoned resources, and to provide public spaces for such initiatives. There is a need for preventive action

4. To rebuild social connections (‘de-planning’)

- Programme: Poverty and Inequality in Societies of Human Rights -the paradox of democracies

Launched publications:

- The Guide “Living in dignity in the XXIst Century: Poverty and Inequalities, paradoxes in Societies of Rights and Democracy?” - Launch of the guide

- The executive summary of the guide is availalble here

- Trends in Social Cohesion, No. 25 – “Redefining and combating poverty, Human rights, democracy and common goods in today’s Europe”. - the online bookstore is available here

- The speakers’ biographies are available here.

- Speeches and Presentations

- Videos of the Conference

- Media coverage of the event

Related EPHA articles


[1] According to a study made by U.S. health scientists who studied for several years the effects of social disadvantage - poverty is responsible for 4 out of 7 cases of depression or schizophrenia.

Last modified on April 11 2013.