Organizational Session of the Economic and Social Council
Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development
New York, 18 December 2011
Distinguished President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Lazarous Kapambwe,
Ambassador Hamidon Ali,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here today for the 2011 organizational session of ECOSOC.
I would like to extend my warm congratulations to Ambassador Kapambwe on your election. We look forward to working closely with you and the Bureau in the coming months.
The Council had a busy and successful year in 2010.
I congratulate His Excellency Ambassador Hamidon Ali and other members of the Bureau on their exceptional leadership.
Ambassador Ali, much of the burden fell on you, but with your dynamic and frank style, you successfully led the Council during a challenging year.
The timely adoption of the action-oriented Ministerial Declaration was one of the many accomplishments you should be proud of.
Indeed, the Ministerial Declaration served as vital input to the High-Level Plenary Meeting during the General Assembly, particularly regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The value of the Council’s work is reflected in the outcome document, which entrusts ECOSOC to monitor progress on the Millennium Development Goals, specifically through the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum.
The Council also contributed to another major highlight of 2010: the establishment of UN Women.
The Council oversaw the consultations on the structure of UN Women’s Executive Board and its election process so that UN Women was ready to begin its work on 1 January 2011 as scheduled.
We are all happy to welcome UN Women as part of the UN family.
During the last session, NGOs were invited to make oral and written statements for the high-level segment of the substantive session through a new online system created by DESA.
This process doubled the number of NGOs that made oral statements and tripled the number of written statements.
This increased participation by NGOs is an important development and sets a good example to follow in reaching out to other constituencies.
I would like to take this occasion to reflect on some of the overall accomplishments of the Council in recent years.
The so-called “new functions” of the Council – the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum – have now been firmly established as central to the work of the Council.
I clearly recall the inaugural sessions of the AMR and DCF in 2007, right after I assumed office.
Through them the Council has provided critical leadership in promoting the implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
The AMR and DCF have also strengthened the Council’s guidance and contribution toward strengthening UN system coordination.
Another accomplishment is the Council’s renewed relationship with international financial and trade institutions.
The modality of the spring meeting now meets the needs of all parties and is more conducive to high-level participation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, the baton has been passed to a new President and Bureau.
In the months ahead, the Council will turn the spotlight on actions and progress made towards achieving the education goals, within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All agenda.
The Annual Ministerial Review will aim at promoting practical strategies to increase access to and quality of education around the world as the basis for poverty eradication and sustainable development.
Let me share some thoughts on how DESA can support you in dealing with tasks ahead.
First, we will tap into the resources of the United Nations system in support of the work of the Council.
My department convenes the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (or ECESA), which promotes programme coordination in the economic and social areas.
Through better utilizing this Executive Committee, and the trove of knowledge and experience of its members, we can better align the activities of UN entities with the Council’s work.
I intend to convene an ECESA Principals’ meeting to coordinate this alignment.
Second, we will step up our support to the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review.
We will redouble our efforts to assist in the dissemination of best practices and lessons learned through national voluntary presentations and regional consultations.
We have already started close collaboration with UNESCO and we intend to intensify such collaboration in the coming months.
We will continue supporting the Development Cooperation Forum.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of its independent assessment of trends in development cooperation and its work on policy coherence.
The Department is also ready to provide analytic support as you consider how to make sustainable development a solid pillar in peacebuilding situations.
You also have our substantive support for the Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti.
With the one-year anniversary of the earthquake last week, we are all reminded of the long road ahead in that nation’s recovery.
As Secretary General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – or Rio+20 - it is important that I highlight our role in the preparatory process.
I assure delegations that I will do my utmost to support Member States in the preparation and organization of this Conference.
The entire UN system will contribute to the preparatory process.
ECESA has been enlisted to ensure system-wide support.
We are also tapping the United Nations Development Group and the Environmental Management Group. The coordination arrangement is now referred to as ECESA Plus.
The Regional Commissions are conducting preparations at the regional level and in some cases, sub-regional levels.
We have just concluded the first intersessional meeting with fruitful discussions on the objectives and themes of the conference.
I count on the Council’s support in furthering these discussions.
We need Rio+20 to be a critical milestone in renewing political commitment on sustainable development.
There has never been a more urgent time to do so…as climate change looms and the global economic recovery continues to weaken.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Council’s focus on education this year will complete the review of all the main MDG themes.
Preparations for the forthcoming session are well underway, in close collaboration with relevant UN partners and other partners.
I look forward to continuing our collaboration for our shared goal of development.
Let us make the July session not just successful but path-breaking.