ECOSOC held a discussion of the ‘Our Common Agenda’ report, following a series of intergovernmental consultations in the UN General Assembly to consider the report’s proposals.
The consultations on each cluster are now being summarized into an outcome document, which is also expected to indicate possible ways forward.
The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a discussion of the ‘Our Common Agenda’ report, following a series of intergovernmental consultations in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to consider the report’s proposals.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued Our Common Agenda in September 2021, following a mandate in the September 2020 declaration on the commemoration of the UN’s 75th anniversary. The report contains approximately 90 proposals and recommendations. In February and March 2022, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) held an intergovernmental process to consider the proposals, holding five two-day discussions on thematic clusters of proposals. The consultations on each cluster are now being summarized into an outcome document, which is also expected to indicate possible ways forward.
In the meantime, ECOSOC held its own meeting on 22 March to discuss the proposals. Guterres addressed the meeting to highlight key signals that emerged from the consultations, in his view, and how he has been moving forward on several areas of the report. On the global financial system, Guterres said Member States recognize that the current system blocks developing countries from making needed investments in their people. He said governments have expressed support for responding to this challenge with biennial summits that will convene UN Member States with the Group of 20 (G20) and international financial institutions to find ways to make the global financial system more just. The first such summit will hopefully be held within 2022, he said. Governments have suggested that this process should avoid duplication with existing bodies and frameworks, such as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development (FfD).
Member States also expressed support for developing metrics to complement GDP to account for climate, the environment, and a broader range of economic activity. Guterres said new metrics are under discussion in the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).
Guterres observed that during the consultation series, governments said ‘Our Common Agenda’ offers a way to address the crises created or exacerbated by the pandemic, including extreme poverty, hunger, unemployment, and education. He said implementation is already under way in some of these areas, such as:
- Creating a Food Systems Coordination Hub among the Rome-based UN agencies to prevent the projected increases in global hunger and advance towards SDG 2 (zero hunger);
- Implementing the Global Accelerator on Job and Social Protection, which aims to create decent jobs in the care, digital, and green economies and “massively” expand social protection; Guterres said governments expressed strong support for this initiative during the consultations;
- Launching preparations for the Transforming Education Summit in September 2022. Guterres asked for support in national dialogues on fulfilling SDG 4 (quality education). A pre-Summit is planned for 28-29 June 2022 in Paris, France, and proposed thematic action tracks would focus on the priority actions identified in the 2020 Global Education Meeting Declaration and the emerging focus of the High-Level Steering Committee on SDG4: inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools; learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development; teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; digital learning; and education financing — both domestic and international.
Guterres also highlighted his proposal for an intergovernmental meeting in 2023 called the Summit of the Future. He said it could produce a Pact for the Future aimed at “turbocharging” the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the AAAA. A potential component of the Pact could be a Global Digital Compact, which he said has strong support from Member States.
In the intergovernmental discussions that took place in February and March 2022, UN Member States considered the proposals in the ‘Our Common Agenda’ report in five groupings. The intergovernmental process aimed to identify initiatives that governments broadly support and on which implementation can begin within 2022, and which proposals need additional consideration. Summaries are forthcoming from the chairs of each cluster, as follows:
- Accelerating and scaling up the SDGs, leaving no-one behind, 10-11 February 2022
- Accelerating the SDGs through sustainable financing and building trust, 14-15 February
- Frameworks for a Peaceful world – promoting peace, international law and digital cooperation, 21-22 February
- Protecting our planet and being prepared for the future, 3-4 March
- Enhancing international cooperation, 7-8 March.
On the topic of international cooperation, Guterres has appointed a High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, co-led by former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven. The Board will develop concrete recommendations for improved global governance, “bearing in mind the strong calls we have heard not to duplicate or supplant arrangements that are working well.” He has asked to Board to focus on equity and fairness in global decision-making and to identify approaches that are “more networked, more inclusive, and above all, more effective.” Their recommendations would inform discussions at the proposed Summit of the Future.
The forthcoming summaries of each consultation may include recommendations about steps forward, outlining pathways to proceed further with ‘Our Common Agenda,’ according to an April 2022 update from the UNGA president.
Alongside UN Member States’ consultations on the proposals in Our Common Agenda, the ‘Coalition for the UN We Need’ network hosted dialogues to generate recommendations from civil society. The messages from those dialogues are available here. [UN News story on first consultation] [Remarks of UN Secretary-General to ECOSOC] [Remarks of UN Secretary-General during fifth consultation]