8 May 2018
Co-facilitators Issue Elements Paper for ECOSOC Review Discussions
UN Photo/Manuel Elías
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The co-facilitators for the ECOSOC review process issued an elements paper that outlines options related to the structure and substantive functions of the Council, including HLPF components.

The co-facilitators also shared dates of consultations for the ECOSOC review, as well as the revised version of a food for thought paper discussed in April by UN Member States.

Subsequent consultation meetings with UN Member States are scheduled for 15, 16, 21 and 24 May.

1 May 2018: As part of the process to review reforms to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UN Member States are considering a draft elements paper issued by the co-facilitators. The paper outlines options related to ECOSOC’s structure and substantive functions, and discusses some components of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

The co-facilitators for the review process, Einar Gunnarsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland, and Alya Ahmed Al Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar, issued the draft on 30 April 2018. The paper builds on an updated “food for thought” paper based on consultations with Member States held between February and April 2018. It also includes additional points to “generate further feedback and reflection” among States.

The draft elements paper contains sections on: the ECOSOC annual main theme and its substantive focus; the structure of the ECOSOC cycle; the ECOSOC High-level Segment (HLS) and the HLPF; the Integration Segment; UN system-wide coherence and coordination, including UN operational activities for development; the coordination of humanitarian assistance and sustainable development; emerging and frontier issues; stakeholder engagement; coordination and management; and ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and support.

Among its proposals, the elements paper suggests that the HLPF and ECOSOC could adopt the same theme, but would have different functions: while the HLPF would review progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ECOSOC could focus on implementation (namely policies and actions) to realize the 2030 Agenda in relation to the theme. ECOSOC could, for instance, offer analysis to inform the HLPF thematic review and provide guidance to the work of its subsidiary bodies, the paper says.

The paper notes that the HLS could be convened for one day following the HLPF, and could focus on future trends and scenarios related to the theme and on emerging and frontier issues. Its outcome would be a President’s Summary, while the outcome of the HLPF would remain a Ministerial Declaration, it says. The paper also proposes to review the VNR framework to allow more time for countries to present their VNR reports during the HLPF’s ministerial meeting.

On integration, the paper suggests renaming the Integration Segment and strengthening it, in order to deliver “fully” on its function of consolidating all the inputs received from the UN system entities and ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and stakeholders. Per the paper, the Segment would: include “meaningful and thorough discussion” on countries in special situations; focus on issues that require the attention of the HLPF and/or a prioritized, coordinated and integrated substantive response from the UN system as a whole; and result in a President’s summary with recommendations to inform the thematic review at the HLPF and the ECOSOC HLS.

On the structure of the ECOSOC cycle, the paper notes that the segments could be restructured into two groups for each ECOSOC annual cycles. The first group would place a strong emphasis on means of implementation, and on policies and actions for 2030 Agenda’s implementation, and could include the UN Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum), the ECOSOC Partnership Forum, the ECOSOC Youth Forum, the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, and the Operational Activities Segment, among other initiatives. The second group could comprise the “renamed” ECOSOC Integration Segment, the HLPF and the ECOSOC HLS.

On stakeholder engagement, the paper suggests that ECOSOC could engage a broader range of stakeholders, and hold informal fora with other actors such as local governments, indigenous people or other major groups and other stakeholders. It also proposes to convene the Partnership Forum over two days, instead of one.

In their letter accompanying the draft elements paper and revised food for thought paper, the co-facilitators indicated the dates of further consultations: 7, 15, 16, 21 and 24 May. The ECOSOC review process is mandated in UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 68/1, which calls for governments to conduct a review of reforms undertaken to strengthen ECOSOC following an earlier resolution (A/RES/61/16). [Letter of co-facilitators, revised food for thought paper and draft elements paper] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on ECOSOC review meeting, 19 April]

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