ECOSOC Vice President responds to online questions

Following up on the social media initiative “Building the Future We Want”, held in the lead up to ECOSOC’s Special Ministerial Meeting on 24 September, the Vice President of the Council, Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, took time to address some of the questions related to Rio+20 follow-up, the green economy, youth involvement, peace and development.

“I would like to thank all of you for your online participation in our social media campaign, “Building the Future We Want”. We are very happy that this campaign led to so many comments and that participants followed the Ministerial Meeting on 24 September,” said Ambassador de Alba, referring to the high online engagement on the Facebook page of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), from people from all corners of the world.

Next steps following up on Rio+20

Addressing one of the questions regarding Rio+20 and the next steps of the UN to implement sustainable development and tackle climate change, Ambassador de Alba said, “the main responsibility we have as a follow up is to try to get a better balance in the integration of the three chapters of sustainable development, the economic, the social and the environmental chapter.”

He also described the number of processes established in Rio, which aims to find that balance and to remedy what is described as a somewhat fragmented agenda. He also underscored the importance of introducing the environmental dimension into development programmes of the UN, as well as to draw attention to the social agenda.

De Alba also emphasized the need to ensure that the post 2015 agenda builds upon the MDGs but also includes sustainable development, “so that the post 2015 agenda will both cover the continuation of the Millennium Development Goals that were agreed in 2000, but will include the sustainable angle and the sustainability input,” he said.

“In addition to that, we are also working on the green economy and trying to facilitate and support the actions by different countries to move towards an economy that would be greener and an economy that would make better use of sustainable energy,” he explained, underscoring also the need to address climate change and to dramatically reduce the levels of emissions.

Bridging the digital divide

Another online question brought up the issue of new technology and what possible mechanisms could be put in place by the United Nations and international private and public stake holders to bridge the digital divide.

“To get a greener economy and a much more efficient use of energy, we will also need to make better use of new technologies,” responded de Alba, and highlighted that there are a number of initiatives being developed within the private sector.

“I will highlight for instance a declaration that has been agreed by very important private companies, dealing with information technologies that will come to support actions by the United Nations, reducing the cost of communications and helping the development processes, both at the national, regional and the international level,” he continued.

Importance of involving youth

“There are a number of opportunities for young people to get engaged. Young people have been identified since 1992, as one of the main constituencies that have to be involved into the discussions and the decision-making processes dealing with sustainable development,” said Ambassador de Alba in response to a question on how proceedings on sustainability and development can be made more inclusive for young people from around the world.

Ambassador de Alba also highlighted climate change negotiations as one area where young people are especially involved, where the aim is getting a new treaty that will complement or replace the Kyoto protocol by 2015. “That new instrument will obviously aim to increase dramatically the commitments to reduce emissions, but more specifically to make better divisions of the shared responsibilities of countries,” he explained.

“From 2015 we expect a greater number of countries to commit to legally binding instruments to reduce emissions, and young people are playing a very important role in setting up that agenda”.

Inter-linkage between peace and development

How can the UN ensure that peace and security goals are included in the post-2015 agenda? This was another question posted by the Global Peace Index to which de Alba responded that he sees the linkage between peace and sustainable development as fundamental. “I cannot conceive peace without development or development without peace. And when you look into areas of conflict, you will see that very frequently, this inter-linkage, is at the origin of the conflict, and frequently also, it is part of the solution,” he said.

Concluding the Q&A session addressing online input, Ambassador de Alba thanked the online community and also underscored the importance of continuing this dialogue. He also called for suggestions and new ideas on how things could be done. “New ideas that could help us advance a common agenda,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of an inclusive decision-making processes. “In other words, the UN of tomorrow is a UN which needs to open its door to a greater level of influence and participation. And I hope through this campaign, in building the future we want, we will be able to do it in that spirit.”

For more information:

United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Facebook page of the Economic and Social Council

Twitter account of ECOSOC President Miloš Koterec