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ECOSOC President Briefs States on Reforms

ECOSOC5 November 2013: In a briefing to the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) explained recent developments in strengthening the Council and their implications for the work of the UN system.

Addressing Member States on 5 November 2013, in New York, US, Nestor Osorio (Colombia) discussed the implementation of two resolutions adopted in recent months: Resolution A/RES/68/1 of September 2013 on the strengthening of ECOSOC, following nine months of consultations facilitated by the Permanent Representatives of Belgium and Guyana, in the context of the review of UNGA resolution 61/16; and Resolution 67/290 of July 2013 on the format and organizational aspects of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

Noting that the two resolutions are intrinsically linked, Osorio said they comprise a key element in the process to implement the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) outcomes, in promoting a balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, and in fighting poverty and pursuing a healthier planet. He added that they are pivotal to accountability for results in the post-2015 agenda.

Osorio noted that Resolution A/RES/68/1 provides for: ECOSOC's substantive leadership of the UN system through adoption of an annual theme, which will be linked to the annual HLPF theme; the convening of a HLPF ministerial meeting as part of ECOSOC's annual high-level segment; the creation of an Integration Segment to monitor and promote the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, and to contribute technical and policy inputs to the work of the HLPF meeting under the auspices of ECOSOC; the convening of the segments of the Council individually throughout the year, with a work programme cycle beginning in July; and the reorganizing of the former Coordination and General Segments as coordination and management meetings, taking place throughout the year.

On the convening of the HLPF under ECOSOC's auspices as part of its high-level segment, Osorio said the annual meeting will aim to generate “critical political guidance and direction” with respect to the Rio+20 outcomes, leading up to the HLPF meeting under the UNGA's auspices every four years.

Osorio pointed to improvements in other areas of the Council's work, including on the operational activities of the UN development system, the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) process; humanitarian affairs and countries in transition; and the dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the UN regional commissions. These activities now will be timed to link with related processes, such as the meetings of the Executive Boards of the funds and programmes and the Spring meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions, he said.

The changes are expected to have several impacts, Osorio noted, including: streamlining the Council's substantive work around a main theme; enhancing each segment's visibility, impact and participation; aligning the work of the Council's subsidiary bodies; and providing flexibility for the Council to convene in response to emerging development challenges.

Osorio called this agreement the most far-reaching reform of ECOSOC since the establishment of the segment structure in 1991. He stressed ECOSOC's continuing role as a platform for civil society participation.

Evaluation of MDGs will be the nucleus of ECOSOC's work and provide an important road marker for the UNGA its Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Osorio said, adding that overall, meetings of the HLPF and ECOSOC held over the next two years will lay the groundwork for the post-2015 development agenda.

Following Osorio's statement, delegates inquired about the process for determining the respective annual themes of ECOSOC and the HLPF. Some also stressed that the purpose of the five days of non-ministerial meetings of the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC had not yet been determined. [Statement of ECOSOC President] [IISD RS Story on Adoption of 67/290] [IISD RS Story on Adoption of A/RES/68/1] [Letter of UNGA President Convening Briefing] [IISD RS Sources]