17 February 2022
ECOSOC Begins Revamped Cycle with 2022 Partnership Forum
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The UN Economic and Social Council held the 2022 Partnership Forum with a renewed focus on feeding stakeholders' priorities and ideas into other meetings throughout the year.

The Forum marked the start of the 2022 ECOSOC cycle of meetings and events – the first cycle since governments decided on a set of reforms to strengthen the Council.

In June 2021, governments agreed that the Forum would be organized in consultation with stakeholders.

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) convened the 2022 Partnership Forum with a renewed focus on feeding stakeholders’ priorities and ideas into other meetings throughout the year. The Forum marked the start of the 2022 ECOSOC cycle of meetings and events – the first cycle since governments decided on a set of reforms to strengthen the Council. The cycle will culminate in July at the annual session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

In June 2021 the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted two resolutions outlining changes to ECOSOC and the HLPF. Per resolution 75/290A on ECOSOC, governments decided to structure segments and forums of the Council into four groups per year, comprising the annual cycle of meetings. The groupings are:

  • The Partnership Forum and the Coordination Segment, to take place by early February each year;
  • The Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) Follow-up, the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for the SDGs, the Youth Forum, and the Development Cooperation Forum (every two years – next DCF takes place in 2023);
  • Segments related to UN development system implementation of the 2030 Agenda and humanitarian assistance: Operational Activities for Development, Humanitarian Affairs, and Transition from Relief to Development; and
  • Segments and forums providing overall policy guidance and fostering progress and review of 2030 Agenda: the HLPF, and ECOSOC’s high-level segment.

On the Partnership Forum, governments agreed that it would be organized in consultation with stakeholders, that it would provide for interactive discussions among all stakeholders on the main theme of the Council and the HLPF for that year, and that it would focus on exchanging new ideas, expectations, and priorities for the work ahead for the Council cycle and the HLPF.

In keeping with the mandate to organize the forum in consultation with stakeholders, in November 2021 the UN Secretariat set up a consultation process to gather stakeholders’ proposals and views through an online form. The consultation took place from 16 November to 3 December 2021, receiving 265 inputs from stakeholders in 56 countries. The largest number of inputs came from Africa, and the majority represented NGOs. Other sectors included education and academic entities, children and youth, business and industry, and local governments.

According to the summary of inputs released in December 2021, regarding the types of policies needed to build back better from COVID-19 while advancing the 2030 Agenda, stakeholders identified health, education, and inclusive participation as key policy areas. Stakeholders also stressed the need to develop, reinforce, and support local policies. The summary also reports that stakeholders: emphasized the need for environment and climate action policies based on evidence; highlighted the need for disaster management policies to be put in place as disasters become more extreme and more common; and called for accountability in the implementation of SDG-related policies.

They survey also asked for suggestions of new actions or partnerships to be initiated at the 2022 Partnership Forum. The summary of responses notes that stakeholders suggested actions, commitments or partnerships related to six categories: involve vulnerable groups; gender equality at the core; focus on childcare; increase youth participation; secure quality education; and inclusive, accessible health care.

To further advance inclusive preparations for the 2022 Partnership Forum, ECOSOC set up an informal Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Group to the President, consisting of both Member States and other stakeholders.. The Group gathered virtually in December to provide inputs on the Forum’s programme, format, and stakeholder ideas to be showcased. The Group’s discussions are summarized here.

This year’s Forum took place on 2 February 2022 focused on the theme, ‘Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development’ – which is also the theme of the 2022 HLPF and the ECOSOC cycle as a whole. Opening the Forum, ECOSOC President Collen Kelapile expressed hope that it would provide “inspiration for the many subsequent forums, segments and other events of ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies that will take place in the coming months.” He said the recommendations from the stakeholder consultations were taken into account in designing the programme.

Kelapile also reflected on current challenges, noting that the most vulnerable groups are the ones “bearing the full brunt of the pandemic,” and we are also facing three planetary crises (climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution), along with a growing number of conflicts. He said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 SDGs need to guide recovery efforts by all governments and actors.

The programme of the Forum is available here, and a summary of discussions is expected to be released. [Forum website]

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