Support to the ECOSOC High-level Integration Segment

Background

OSAA has been contributing to, and supporting the work of the ECOSOC as a whole over the years. The ECOSOC organizes the “High-level Integration Segment” pursuant to the Outcome Document of the Rio+20 Conference, entitled, “The Future We Want”. In the Document, ECOSOC was mandated ECOSOC to play a key role in the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely economic, social, and environmental dimensions. OSAA’s contribution and support to ECOSOC’ work in general builds on its advocacy role in supporting the African Union’s transformative development agenda.  With regard to support for the “High-level Integration Segment,” OSAA actively participated in the two editions held thus far, in 2014 and 2015.

OSAA has also been partnering with UN entities to advocate for African issues within the ECOSOC framework on youth and urbanization, its deliberations on the post 2015 development agenda, the follow-up on the Rio+20 outcome document, Africa’s transformative Agenda 2063, the Africa Industrialization Day and the Ebola Recovery Assessment.

OSAA’s role

OSAA contributed to substantive preparations for, and actively participated in the first High-level Integration Segment of ECOSOC held in 2014, on the theme “Sustainable Urbanization”, including by partnering with UN entities to advocate for African issues within the ECOSOC framework on youth and urbanization.

OSAA also contributed to substantive preparations and the deliberations of the 2015 ECOSOC Youth Forum on how to maximize the engagement of young people in transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The outcome and recommendations fed into the 2015 ECOSOC High-level Integration segment. The Forums provided a platform for young African youth to engage in dialogue with Member States and other high-profile development stakeholders on how they can be included in shaping Africa’s transformative development agenda, in light of the post-2015 development agenda and the recently adopted African Union Agenda 2063. Nearly 500 youth representatives actively participated in the discussions, contributing ideas and identifying key priorities that require greater attention from policymakers in the transition from the MDGs to the post-2015 development agenda. 

Furthermore, OSAA was represented at the ECOSOC Integration segment session on theme “At work in Africa” held on 31 March 2015. The session discussed methods for improving employment opportunities in both the informal to the formal sectors, and investing in green and technology jobs.

Importance to Africa

The High-level Segments of ECOSOC of significant importance to Africa, they have addressed issues lying at the heart of Continents transformative Agenda. The first High-level Integration Segment of ECOSOC in 2014 meeting demonstrated how urbanization can be an effective tool for the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. It was noted that while currently the least urbanized continent with only about 40% of its population living in urban areas, Africa had the highest urban growth rates in the world. Moreover, the rural-urban linkage is distinctive in Africa and the strong existing links must be factored into the overall structural transformation to ensure that development efforts are focused on both rural and urban areas.

The 2015 Integration Segment addressed  the  issue of “achieving sustainable development through employment creation and decent work for all”  The focus on national and international economic policies to facilitate sustainable development and decent work is timely, particularly for Africa, where decent jobs have stagnated and unemployment rates have continued to rise. 

The focus on employment creation and decent work is of particular importance to youth, given that youth unemployment rates reached 13.0 per cent in 2014, which is almost three times higher than the unemployment rate for adults. Africa, with 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, has the highest concentration of young people anywhere on the planet and thus requires particular attention.  Employment creation must therefore be supported by integrated policy measures to strengthen the creation of higher paying jobs as well as improvements in security, education, infrastructure and technology.

Another area of focus in the High-level Segment is the transformation of the informal economy and upgrading of rural economies to enhance productivity and promote better jobs in an environmentally sustainable manner. This too is of significant importance to Africa since over 80 per cent of African economies are concentrated in the informal sectors. OSAA’s advocacy and coordinating role is of value in this regard, since it works to highlight the efforts of UN agencies, including the ILO, working on these very important issues.