President predicts ‘challenging’ year ahead for UN Economic and Social Council

Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg

11 February 2009 – The head of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) predicts a “challenging” year ahead for the 54-member body as it seeks to contribute to efforts to tackle the financial crisis and to further the global development agenda.

“ECOSOC will have to respond to the current financial crisis,” President Sylvie Lucas told a news conference in New York, as she laid out the Council’s agenda for 2009.

In this regard, the Council plans to use its annual spring high-level meeting with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to mobilize the international community to strengthen macro-economic and financial policy coherence, coordination and cooperation.

The discussions from the 27 April meeting can make a valuable contribution to the ongoing preparations for the General Assembly’s summit on the financial crisis and its impact on development, slated to be held in early June, she noted.

In addition to tackling issues related to the crisis, the Council also plans to continue carrying out the new responsibilities entrusted to by the Assembly in 2005, such as the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR).

This year’s AMR will focus on global public health and aims to review progress made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – the eight globally agreed anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline.

“We will try to bring out the links between and challenges [to the] health-related goals and the overall development agenda,” she said, adding that preparations for the Review are set to kick off tomorrow with a panel discussion on the contribution of traditional medicine to realizing global public health development objectives.

In addition, a special related event on philanthropy and the global public health agenda will be held on 23 February with more than 300 corporate and philanthropic leaders, including top executives from Novartis Foundation, Pfizer and the Business Council for Africa.

“We expect to hear some concrete announcements on contributions that will be made to help accelerate progress in the two top priority areas which will be discussed that day,” said Ms. Lucas, referring to improving health outcomes for women and girls, and raising the profile of neglected tropical diseases.

The Council hopes, with this event, to expand the range of partners willing to cooperate with the UN on important health and development challenges, and increase the flow of philanthropic resources to development-related activities.

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