Economic and Social Council Adopts 5 Texts, Including on Africa’s Development, Persons with Disabilities, as Coordination, Management Segment Continues

ECOSOC/6847
8 June 2017
2017 Session, 33rd Meeting (AM)

Economic and Social Council Adopts 5 Texts, Including on Africa’s Development, Persons with Disabilities, as Coordination, Management Segment Continues

Continuing its 2017 coordination and management segment, the Economic and Social Council today adopted three resolutions and two decisions, including recommendations from its Commission for Social Development and its expert committee on the transport of dangerous goods.

Introducing the report on the Commission’s fifty-fifth session, Commission Chair Philipp Charwath (Austria) noted that the session had been organized around the priority theme “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All”, and that the wide range of participants had used the occasion to reaffirm support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Acting without a vote, the Council adopted two resolutions and one decision contained within that report.

By the resolution titled “social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”, the Council called on the international community to enhance support and fulfil its commitments in areas vital to Africa’s economic and social development.  Calling inclusive and sustainable industrialization a critical engine of such development, the Council stressed the importance of taking measures to promote the dynamic diversification of African economies.

By the second text, “promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and strengthening the mainstreaming of disability in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, the Council decided to continue its consideration of mainstreaming the rights, participation, perspectives, needs and well-being of persons with disabilities in development, including within the framework of United Nations operational activities.

By the draft decision, the Council took note of the Commission’s report on its fifty-fifth session, and approved the provisional agenda and documentation for its fifty-sixth session.

The Council then turned to the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, introduced by Olivier Kervella, Chief, Dangerous Goods and Special Cargoes Section, Sustainable Transport Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.  He noted that the report was broken down into four sections and included a draft resolution, which was then adopted by the Council, without a vote.

By that text, the Council requested that the Secretary-General circulate the new and amended recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods and publish the twentieth revised edition of the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods:  Model Regulations and amendment 1 to the sixth revised edition of the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods:  Manual of Tests and Criteria in all the official languages of the United Nations, in the most cost-effective manner, no later than the end of 2017.

Rounding out its action, the Council adopted without a vote a decision to hold a panel discussion titled “transition from relief to development:  advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in crisis contexts” on 21 June.

In other business, the Council confirmed the nominations of six candidates to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development for a term beginning immediately and expiring on 30 June 2019.

The Council also held a dialogue with the Director of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination Secretariat, on the Board’s annual overview report for 2016, as well as the outcomes of its first 2017 regular session.  It also took up the Secretary-General’s report on mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system.

The 54-member body also extended its July coordination and management meeting by one day — to 6 and 7 July — and cancelled its scheduled sessions for Friday, 9 June.

Delivering statements today were representatives of Mexico, Norway and Chile.

The Economic and Social Council will continue its coordination and management session on Thursday, 6 July.

Commission for Social Development

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), Chair of the Commission for Social Development, introduced the report on the fifty-fifth session of the Commission for Social Development (document E/2017/26), noting that the session was held in February under the priority theme “Strategies for Eradicating Poverty to Achieve Sustainable Development for All”.  Member States, United Nations entities and non-governmental organizations from all regions attended the Commission session, in which the body reaffirmed its support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Member States also recognized the Commission as a global multi-stakeholder forum for evidence-based, action-oriented substantive discussions to promote social development, including through sharing good practices and lessons learned at the national and regional levels.

In their deliberations, Member States reaffirmed that the eradication of poverty remained one of the greatest global challenges of our time, an indispensable requirement for sustainable development and a prerequisite to building cohesive, peaceful and inclusive societies, he said.  Ending poverty in all its forms would require more inclusive, integrated, coherent and innovative social policy frameworks, poverty reduction strategies and national development plans that reached all people, including those who were left furthest behind.

The Commission also held a high-level panel discussion on promoting integrated policies for poverty eradication through youth development, he continued.  Panellists highlighted the challenges faced by young people, particularly high levels of youth un- and underemployment, limited access to quality education, skills development and training.  A high-level panel discussion on poverty and disability also took place, during which panellists shared national, regional and global experiences and innovations in poverty eradication for persons with disabilities.  Throughout its discussion, the Commission also emphasized the importance of supporting the well-being and rights of older persons, while it also noted the critical role of the family in cultural, political and socioeconomic development.

The Commission also adopted two draft resolutions that were recommended for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, including on one the social dimensions of the new partnership for Africa’s development and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, he said.  The Commission also adopted a resolution on policies and programmes involving youth.

The representative of Mexico underlined the Commission’s important work with regard to women, young people, the elderly, indigenous people, those who were disabled, families and all other groups in vulnerable situations.  With social development a pillar of sustainable development, achieving the goals of the Commission on Social Development should not be addressed through a single angle.  It was vital to reflect on the future of the Commission on Social Development given the duplication of its themes with other fora and bodies.  He expressed regret that the Commission on Social Development was falling into irrelevance and called for the Commission to provide stronger input into the larger work of the United Nations.

The Council then adopted a draft resolution contained within the report titled “social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development”, in which the Council called upon the international community to enhance support and fulfil its commitments to take further action in areas critical to Africa’s economic and social development.  Further to that text, the Council stressed that inclusive and sustainable industrialization was a critical engine of economic and social development, as well as the importance of taking measures to promote the dynamic diversification of African economies.

By that text, the Council also stressed the importance of improving maternal and child health, as well as the essential role that official development assistance (ODA) played in complementing, leveraging and sustaining financing for development efforts in developing countries.

The Council then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution contained within the report titled “promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and strengthening the mainstreaming of disability in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, whereby it decided to continue to give due consideration to the issue of mainstreaming the rights, participation, perspectives, needs and well-being of persons with disabilities in development, including within the framework of United Nations operational activities.

By that text, the Council also called upon Member States, relevant regional organizations and United Nations bodies and agencies to ensure that all development policies and programmes took into account the inclusion of all persons with disabilities in society on an equal basis with others.

A draft decision titled “report of the Commission for Social Development on its fifty-fifth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-sixth session”, contained within the report was also adopted, without a vote, by the Council.

The decision took note of the report of the Commission for Social Development on its fifty-fifth session and approved the provisional agenda and documentation for the fifty-sixth session of the Commission.

Nominations

The Council then confirmed the nominations of six candidates — Jim Adesina, Asef Bayat, David Hulme, Joakim Palme and Onalenna Selolwane — to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development for a term beginning immediately and expiring on 30 June 2019.

United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination

SIMONA PETROVA, Director of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination Secretariat, introduced the Board’s annual overview report for 2016 (document E/2017/55) and outlined the outcomes of its first 2017 regular session.  She noted that the Board was the longest-standing internal coordination mechanism in the United Nations system, bringing together the heads of a number of funds, programmes and specialized agencies.  In September 2016, the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) had become the Board’s latest member.

As the year 2016 had marked the starting point for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, promoting system-wide support to Member States had been one of the Board’s major activities for the year, she said.  In particular, it had focused on the critical need for the system to work across the United Nations Charter through activities anchored in a common vision and which drew on the Organization’s various strengths.  Among other things, the Board had also endorsed a set of 11 common principles to guide the system in its support to Member States in that regard, and in April 2016, it had put out a statement expressing the United Nations commitment to promoting equality and addressing the root causes of discrimination.

She went on to outline the Board’s efforts in such areas as the follow-up to major United Nations system conferences and summits — including the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action — the directing of the flow of foreign direct investment to least developed countries and its recent endorsement of a set of common core principles for a United Nations system approach to climate change action.  The Board had also taken steps to improve efficiency in the areas of finance and budget, human resources and procurement and had worked to improve multilingualism across the United Nations system.

Noting that its Strategic Plan for 2017‑2020 addressed such areas as service delivery, partnerships, data and risk management, she said efforts were also under way to improve the efficiency of the United Nations Development Group.  Turning briefly to the Board’s first 2017 regular session, she said it had focused on such themes as “the state of the world”, “the future of multilateralism” and “the future of the United Nations Development System”, with Board members agreeing that reforms should be guided by United Nations norms and values, as well as the need to improve efficiency and deliver results.

The representative of Norway, raising a number of points on those matters, said the work described by Ms. Petrova was critical to ensuring that the United Nations delivered at the country level in a coherent and effective way.  As the Organization began to examine the Economic and Social Council’s working methods, it would be important to consider whether the Board’s annual report should be presented to the operational activities segment, rather than to the coordination and management meeting.  He also drew attention to a few points where the report could be improved and suggested that the Board’s transparency could be enhanced by making the work plans and annual reports of the United Nations Development Group, the High-Level Committee on Management and the High-Level Committee on Programmes publically available.

The representative of Mexico called on High-Level Committee on Management to improve its processes to ensure the more efficient use of each part of the United Nations system, and urged the Board to participate in such upcoming activities as the review of United Nations local and field staff.  Advocating for a greater focus on peacebuilding in the context of the 2030 Agenda, as well as pinpointing the causes of conflict, early warning and improving the Organization’s ability to respond more nimbly to threats, she added that Mexico supported funding the United Nations development system’s work from the regular budget.

Ms. PETROVA responded that she would convey those comments and questions to the Secretary-General and the Board as it planned its upcoming sessions.  Most of what was being done in the High-Level Committee on Management was available on the Board’s website, she said, also inviting Member States to reach out to the Board if they wanted more information.  Agreeing that the individual organizations should be held more accountable in terms of results, she said the Secretary-General intended to use the Board’s internal coordination mechanism to that end.  Among other priorities, she said the Board had considered the indivisibility of the 2030 Agenda, the building of resilience and ways to address emerging challenges.

Transport of Dangerous Goods

OLIVIER KERVELLA, Chief, Dangerous Goods and Special Cargoes Section, Sustainable Transport Division, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (document E/2017/53).

The Committee was first created in 1953 to elaborate recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods, which were updated every two years to take into account technological progress and new safety or security challenges, he said.  Those recommendations were now widely and effectively implemented through national law in all countries that had a significant economic interest in international carriage of dangerous goods.

They also served as a basis for improving the safety of transport of dangerous goods, harmonizing all national and international rules addressing that subject for different modes of transport, he said.  In that context, the recommendations had a significant impact, not only on safety improvements, but also on economic development thanks to transport and trade facilitation resulting from harmonization.

The report was broken into four parts, he continued, including a draft resolution that was contained in the first portion of the report.  The second part of the report contained detailed information on the implementation of resolution 2015/7.  The International Maritime Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Intergovernmental Organization for International Carriage by Rail and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe had already amended their respective legal instruments on the transport of dangerous goods.  Many countries had also updated their respective legislation.  The third part of the report provided information on the activities of the Committee during the biennium 2015‑2016, while the fourth part of the report contained the programme of work of the Committee and its schedule of meetings for the biennium 2017-2018.

The Council then adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution contained within the report, titled “Work of the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals”.

By that text, the Council requested that the Secretary-General circulate the new and amended recommendations on the transport of dangerous goods and publish the twentieth revised edition of the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods:  Model Regulations and amendment 1 to the sixth revised edition of the Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods:  Manual of Tests and Criteria in all the official languages of the United Nations, in the most cost-effective manner, no later than the end of 2017.

Further to the text, the Council requested the Secretary-General to make those publications available in book and electronic format, and on the website of the Economic Commission for Europe.

Ministerial Declaration Matters

The Council then began its joint consideration of two agenda items, including the United Nations system in implementing the ministerial declaration of the high-level segment of the substantive session of the Economic and Social Council and implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conference and summits.

FEDERICA PIETRACCI, Senior Economic Affairs Officer of the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system (document A/72/75–E/2017/56).

Recalling that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as the Rio+20 conference, had stressed the need for accelerating the implementation of sustainable development as a mean for achieving the eradication of global poverty, she noted that Governments and partners had agreed that international development institutions needed to reflect coherent policies and programmes for achieving sustainable development.  The report explored the issue of mainstreaming sustainable development in the context of the 2030 Agenda, which had become the overarching framework for advancing sustainable development.

The Sustainable Development Goals were interlinked and indivisible so that progress in one goal would only be made through simultaneous progress in all goals, she said.  The report seized the opportunity to highlight how the goals were at the core of the 2030 Agenda and explored new impetus for injecting sustainable development initiatives across the development system.  Links between sustainable development efforts and humanitarian affairs and peace and security were also noted in the report.

Further, she said, the report provided an update on the work that the United Nations system was undertaking to integrate the 2030 Agenda into its programmes, including through the strategic planning process, the development of tool-kits to be used by United Nations country teams and by assisting member States in reporting on their progress in implementing the Sustainable Development.  The report also addressed the ways that that United Nations system was working to make its own facilities and operational activities more sustainable.

The representative of Mexico recalled the new Secretary-General had expressed his determination to achieve a better coordinated, more transparent and more integrated approach to development.  A cross-cutting approach was therefore required, she said, calling for an “integrated vision” which ensured the coherence of policies in the areas of economic, social and environmental development and a continued focus on human rights, equity and gender.

The representative of Chile, associating himself with the statement delivered by Mexico, agreed that the 2030 Agenda should be integrated in a cross‑cutting manner across the entire United Nations system.  The national priorities of each country must be the guiding pillars in the United Nations development system’s future work, he added.

Adoption of Agenda and Other Organizational Items

The Council then adopted a decision, titled “Economic and Social Council event to discuss the transition from relief to development” (document E/2017/L.23), without a vote.

In other business, it extended its July coordination and management meeting by one additional day — to 6 and 7 July — and cancelled its scheduled sessions for Friday, 9 June.

For information media. Not an official record.