UN Member States have begun consultations on implementing UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 61/16, on the strengthening of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The first round of informal consultations focused on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) outcome document and the post-2015 development agenda.
8 February 2013: UN Member States have begun consultations on implementing UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 61/16, on strengthening the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The first round of informal consultations focused on the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) outcome document and the post-2015 development agenda.
Meeting in New York, US, on 8 February 2013, delegates discussed: the creation of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and other mechanisms mandated at Rio+20; ECOSOC’s role in promoting sustainable development; and the Council’s future within the post-2015 development agenda.
Jan Grauls, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, and co-facilitator of the consultations (along with George Wilfred Talbot, Permanent Representative of Guyana), presented a summary of discussion from the HLPF consultations on 30 January, and said these consultations will continue in smaller venues with political groupings and the Major Groups. Delegates called for strong communication between the HLPF consultations and the consultations on strengthening ECOSOC. The co-facilitators said regular meetings with the HLPF co-facilitators are taking place.
On the relationship between the future HLPF and a strengthened ECOSOC, some delegates called for the Forum to be a short, high-level meeting to discuss sustainable development, while others proposed a more institutional body tasked with the implementation of sustainable development. Many delegates suggested that the HLPF be held as a special session of ECOSOC. Many States agreed that ECOSOC is to be the body responsible for the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, and for follow-up to Rio+20.
The discussion also addressed “possible lines of action” in regard to strengthening ECOSOC, with options outlined in the co-facilitators’ “Food For Thought” paper released before the meeting. Delegates proposed: electing the ECOSOC bureau a week earlier; improving coordination between the Council and the UNGA’s Second and Third Committees; restructuring ECOSOC sessions and meetings throughout the year; and enhancing coordination with Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) and other stakeholders.
On the subject of ECOSOC’s involvement in the post-2015 development agenda, delegates welcomed the newly announced theme of the 2013 substantive session: “The contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on issues of economic and social development and for the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs). Many delegates cautioned that ECOSOC’s discussion of post-2015 should not preempt the global agenda process, as the Council’s role will become more clear in the next year. Others emphasized coordination between the post-2015 development agenda and the process to define Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and ECOSOC’s current role in achieving the MDGs.
Also during the consultations, Wu Hongbo, Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, presented the advance, unedited report of the UN Secretary-General on the Implementation of resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of ECOSOC. The report calls for reform in three main areas: enhanced coherence in the ECOSOC system; streamlining the Council’s relationship with other international bodies; and improvement in the body’s working methods and institutional mechanisms.
Grauls said the co-facilitators will produce another Food For Thought paper with a “menu of progress” and possible actions for the next meeting. [Publication: Food for Thought: The ECOSOC We Want] [IISD Story on Theme of ECOSOC 2013 Substantive Session] [Publication: Advance, Unedited Version: Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 61/16 on the Strengthening of the Economic and Social Council: Report of the Secretary-General]