ECOSOC opens with focus on global labour market

The Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will take place in New York on 2-27 July

Addressing the world’s economic, social and environmental challenges, ECOSOC will hold its annual, month-long substantive session in July. The session is divided into five segments ― High-level; Coordination; Operational Activities; Humanitarian Affairs; and General. With its focus on pressing development challenges, the High-level segment regularly attracts policy-makers from the top ranks of government. The Segment also features the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and the biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).

High-level Segment

This year’s high-level segment which takes place on 2-9 July, opens with the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on 2-3 July, spotlighting the theme of “promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty”

This focus is particularly timely, as the global economic and financial crisis has exacerbated pre-existing challenges to the achievement of full employment and decent work in both developing and developed countries. While unemployment and labour market inequity remain high in developed countries, workers in developing countries must contend with high rates of under-employment, vulnerable employment and informal work.

The 2012 AMR will examine global labour market trends and assess progress toward meeting employment and decent work-related goals. It will result in a ministerial declaration, to be adopted on 9 July that reflects the international commitment to prioritise job creation in the development agenda.

On 2 and 3 July, nine countries – Algeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Kenya, Mauritius, Qatar, Russian Federation, Senegal and Ukraine – will make National Voluntary Presentations (NVPs). They will share experience in terms of the progress that has been accomplished and the remaining obstacles with respect to productive capacity and employment. 

On 3 July, representatives from the international financial and trade institutions will convene for a high-level policy dialogue on recent developments in the world economy, followed by a thematic roundtable on 9 July, which will highlight “macro-economic policies for productive capacity, employment creation, sustainable development and the achievement of the MDGs”.

On 5-6 July, the High-level Segment will continue with the third biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF). As a true multi-stakeholder global platform for interactive debate on the effective and coherent use of development cooperation, the 2012 DCF will bring together a large number of diverse participants.

The DCF has an ever more important role to play and the growing number and diversity of actors in international development cooperation can benefit from such an inclusive global platform. Innovative development partnerships are gaining traction. They increasingly coordinate and regroup around common goals. Yet, to release their full potential, efforts need to be more coherent and better coordinated.  

A continued focus on turning pledges into implementation is urgently needed to scale up development efforts led and owned by programme countries. With limited resources and competing demands, any type of development assistance must show tangible results. 

These challenges are aggravated by political uncertainty and economic hardship that continue to dominate development prospects. Such deep changes call for practical solutions that are built around sustainable development and designed to work in the long run for the benefit of all people. The post-2015 UN development agenda needs to build on this premise. 

The 2012 DCF aims to promote solutions to enhance development cooperation, improve its quality and maximize its impact to accomplish national and international development priorities in the context of sustainable development. It will explore emerging drivers of change that will shape the future of development cooperation.  

In the spirit of global accountability, the frank and interactive discussions are expected to encourage all actors to live up to promises made on aid issues. Special emphasis will also be placed on South-South Cooperation and the evolving role of private philanthropic organizations and decentralised cooperation.  

In view of the evolving post 2015 UN development agenda, the 2012 DCF will also provide a unique opportunity for the universal membership of the UN and other stakeholders to discuss international efforts to promote development cooperation and to further promote the role of the DCF as a multi-stakeholder and inclusive forum for addressing emerging challenges and acting as global apex for accountability on development cooperation. 

A series of side events will also be held at the margins of the DCF, organized by representatives of different stakeholder groups. 

The High-level Segment will be chaired by H.E. Mr. Miloš Koterec of Slovakia, President of ECOSOC.

Coordination Segment

Organized on 10-12 July, this segment will focus on following up to the 2011 Ministerial Declaration on “implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education” and to the International Conference on Financing for Development

There will be a dialogue with the executive secretaries of the regional commissions on the theme of “Regional perspectives on youth and development”, during which the report of the Secretary-General on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields will be presented to the Council. In addition, the annual overview report of the UN system Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) will be presented to the Council. 

The coordination segment provides an opportunity to identify areas where the UN system should promote more comprehensive and effective approaches and to recommend ways in which support by the UN system can be strengthened against the backdrop of current challenges. 

The Secretary-General’s report on “the role of the United Nations system in implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education” will provide the background analysis for the debate. The discussion will focus on the work of the UN system in the field of education through the angle of coordinated and/or joint initiatives, as well as partnerships with other stakeholders aimed at accelerating progress towards MDG2, Education for All and related goals. The report also provides food for thought on emerging trends in education development and their potential consequences on the international education agenda.   

Under the financing for development agenda item, the Council will have before it the Summary by the President of the Council of the special high-level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, held in March 2012. 

The work of the Coordination Segment will be complemented by the following panels:

  • Mobilizing partnerships for development, including in the field of education
  • Addressing the challenges of the education/skills and job mismatch
  • Innovative mechanisms of financing for development

The Segment will be chaired by H.E. Mr. Mootaz Ahmadein Khalil of Egypt, Vice President of ECOSOC.

Operational Activities Segment

Taking place on 13-17 July, this segment will be guided by the two reports of the Secretary-General for the 2012 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) and the report of the independent evaluation of the Delivering as One programme

The QCPR is the mechanism by which the General Assembly assesses the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and impact of the UN system’s development work.  Through the QCPR, the General Assembly also establishes system-wide policy orientations for the development cooperation and country-level modalities of the UN system in response to the evolving development landscape. 

The two Secretary-General reports on the 2012 QCPR are the result of extensive and substantive preparations for the 2012 QCPR process. These analytical preparations comprise 9 in-depth issue studies, four global surveys of stakeholder perspectives and a comprehensive funding analysis of UN operational activities for development, touching upon key features and challenges posed by emerging issues in international development cooperation.

The Segment will bring the perspectives of national policy makers on all these critical QCPR issues, complemented by the operational experience of senior UN officials. It will feature a dialogue with the Executive Heads of UN funds and programmes, as well as with the Chairs of the Executive Boards of UN funds and programmes.

There will also be panel discussions on the functioning of the UN development system, with the participation of senior government officials. Findings of the Delivering as One independent evaluation will be presented as will the achievements and remaining challenges of this UN pilot initiative.

Prior to the Segment, a half-day workshop will bring together national focal points for operational activities to discuss key development topics emerging from the 2012 QCPR process, which will be shared with the Council and used to enrich Segment deliberations. 

Chaired by H.E. Mr. Desra Percaya, of Indonesia, Vice President of ECOSOC, the Segment will not result in any outcome resolution, as 2012 involves a QCPR process. However, the debates will serve to complement the negotiations of the General Assembly in its 67th session in the adoption of a QCPR resolution which will provide policy directives on UN operational activities for development for the 2012-2016 cycle.

Humanitarian Affairs Segment

Providing an opportunity to discuss opportunities and challenges related to strengthening the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance, this segment will take place on 18–20 July

The Segment is arranged under the theme “Working in partnership to strengthen coordination of humanitarian assistance in a changing world”, and it will feature two panel events on the following topics:

  • Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making;
  • Partnerships for effective humanitarian assistance in support, of national, regional and international efforts.

Each panel will feature high-level representation from Member States, Regional Organisations, UN and NGOs and will be moderated by the Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos. 

The panel on Improving capacities for evidence-based humanitarian decision-making will feature prominent speakers from the academic and practitioner world, in addition to a Minister from an affected country. Speakers will include Professor Hans Rosling, Chairman of the Gapminder foundation and noted TED Speaker. It will focus on how to strengthen the evidence-base for humanitarian decision-making and it will also highlight the role of new technologies in strengthening the link between affected people and humanitarian response decisions; and will recommend measures to strengthen information and data platforms for humanitarian decision-making. 

Scheduled for 20 July at 10:00 am, the panel on Partnerships for effective humanitarian response will highlight examples of innovative partnerships in humanitarian response. It will also explore how such partnerships can strengthen local resilience and national level capacities to respond to new emergencies. The panel will recommend steps that stakeholders can jointly take to strengthen preparedness, resilience and response. Participants include representatives of regional organisations, affected member states and civil society. 

As in previous years, the ECOSOC Vice Presidents for Operational and Humanitarian Affairs will co-host an informal ECOSOC event on “Humanitarian needs in the Sahel and the importance of building resilience”, shedding light on the food and nutrition crises in the Sahel region, including efforts by national governments, civil society and international humanitarian actors to address the mounting humanitarian needs and building resilience of local communities to these recurrent crises. 

On the margins, Member States, UN organisations, Red Cross/Red Crescent and NGOS will host fifteen side events on a number of different issues. The Global Humanitarian Assistance report 2012, which is an independent attempt to capture the international humanitarian financing, will also be launched. 

The Emergency Relief Coordinator will host the launch of the Mid-Year Review of the Consolidated Appeals Process for 2012 on 19 July at 13:15-14:30 pm. The event is significant as it will raise the profile of key emergencies and will encourage member states and partners to support humanitarian multilateral efforts. 

As the substantive Secretariat supporting the ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment, OCHA will present a booth featuring humanitarian publications, enabling ECOSOC guests and visitors to collect additional information. Additionally, this year the panels will be more publicised and interactive, allowing social media users on Facebook and Twitter to participate in the discussion and pose questions to the panelists.

The Segment will be chaired by H.E. Mr. Fernando Arias of Spain, Vice-President of ECOSOC.

General Segment

During this segment to be held on 23-27 July, the Council will review reports of its subsidiary bodies and of other UN entities working in the economic and social fields

The subsidiary bodies include the Council’s functional commissions, regional commissions, expert and ad hoc bodies. The Segment will also consider the report of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti. 

The Council will also review the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) and consider the recommendations made by the Committee on Development Policy on the inclusion in and graduation from the LDC category. It is also expected to take action on the follow-up to the IV UN Conference on the LDCs. 

A number of system-wide thematic issues will be reviewed, among them, the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the UN system. The work of the UN inter-agency task force on tobacco control and the follow-up to the World Summit on Information Society will also be reviewed. 

A series of events will be held including a briefing by the Members of the Committee for Development Policy; a briefing by the Chairperson of the Peacebuilding Commission; and a panel event on “Integrated, coherent and coordinated support to South Sudan” on 24 July, as part of the Council’s discussion on “African countries emerging from conflict”. The event will provide an opportunity to examine some of the key elements of the first Secretary-General’s report on “Implementation of integrated, coherent and coordinated support to South Sudan by the United Nations system”, in particular in the areas of capacity-building and core governance functions.

The economic and social situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan and the support to colonial countries and peoples will also be considered.

The Segment will be chaired by H.E. Mr. Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, Vice-President of ECOSOC.

For more information:
United Nations Economic and Social Council