Innovation at the heart of ECOSOC

Photo: © UNICEF/Michael KavanaghThe 2013 High-level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is taking place on 1-4 July in Geneva. The Secretary-General’s report emphasizes that science, technology, innovation and culture are critical to the achievement of the MDGs and a successful transition to sustainable development. A Thunderclap campaign running since April has helped youth bring their voices to the world’s leaders.

As the participants of the 2013 High-level Segment of ECOSOC were getting ready in Geneva last week, hundreds of Twitter users were signing-up to share a special tweet with all their followers on 1 July. This campaign, called “Thunderclap” aimed at bringing youth voices to the ECOSOC high-level segment.

“Investing in youth will enable us to solve sustainable development challenges such as poor education, lack of access to health care, high unemployment, violence, conflicts and extremism. This involves reaching out, listening to and learning from young people”, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in a video message to promote the campaign, a week before the opening of the High-Level Segment.

With a call to “Innovate your Future”, young people have been encouraged to sustain the planet and ask the world leaders at ECOSOC to help. By sharing a single tweet, Twitter users from all over the world and from all backgrounds showed their support to empower youth. “At the United Nations, we believe that young people have the energy and ideas we need to change the world”, added the Secretary-General in his message.

Science, technology, innovation and culture for sustainable development

The ECOSOC Substantive Session is taking place from 1 to 25 July. It is divided in 5 Segments, a High-level Segment, which opens the session during the first week, a Coordination Segment, an Operational Activities Segment, a Humanitarian affairs Segment and a General Segment.

As part of the High-Level Segment, the theme of this year’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) is “Science, technology and innovation (STI) and culture for promoting sustainable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.” These fields are presented as enablers for sustainable development and important elements of the post-2015 development agenda.

STI and culture significantly impact each of the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. STI drives the dynamic transformation of economies through productivity growth, which influences economic growth. Over time, economic growth fueled by innovations in science and technology can increase social cohesion, stability, and democratic governance while also increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste, mitigating climate change and embarking on sustainable development pathways. Culturally-based, local and indigenous knowledge as well as skills and endogenous know-how are core resources for coping with climate change, preventing biodiversity loss and ensuring environmental sustainability.

Five regions to report on Innovation for Development

The High-Level Segment will benefit from the reports of five regional consultations conducted in preparation for the AMR in Western Asia, Latin, Asia and the Pacific, Africa and Europe, all focusing on Science and Technology for Development.

The High-level Segment will also include National Voluntary Presentations from France, Nigeria, Peru, Thailand and Viet Nam, who will showcase their national reports on STI and culture and their experiences in promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs. It will also host several panel discussions and a thematic debate on the contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of a Post-2015 development agenda.

The High-Level Segment will be opened by H.E. Mr. Néstor Osorio, President of ECOSOC. Also addressing the Council during its opening ceremony will be Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremi?, President of the General Assembly, and H.E. Mr. Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation 

Coordination to promote employment and decent work for all

Organized on 5-9 July, the Coordination Segment will focus on following up to the 2012 Ministerial Declaration on “Promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals” 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 the post-2105 development agenda”. In addition, the annual overview report of the UN system Chief Executive Board for Coordination (CEB) will be presented to the Council. The Secretary-General’s report on “the role of the United Nations system in promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals” will provide the background analysis for the debate. In addition, the Segment will also feature a session on financing for development.

A resolution to monitor and implement the QCPR

The Operational Activities Segment, hold from 10-12 July, will focus on progress in implementing the General Assembly 67/226 resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN system’s operational activities (QCPR). The resolution adopts several important reforms measures with an aim to enhance the relevance, coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of UN operational activities for development.

The reports of the Secretary-General show that the UN system has taken some action in implementing the QCPR resolution. At the same time, some time-bound reform measures require urgent action. In particular, the UN development system needs to advance vigorously on several fronts, in particular harmonization of rules and regulations that govern business operations. At the end of the segment, a resolution is expected to be adopted which will provide further guidance on the monitoring and implementation of the resolution.

A Humanitarian Fair 

The Humanitarian Affairs Segment (15-17 July) provides an essential forum where Member States, humanitarian organizations and other relevant counterparts discuss the challenges, opportunities and activities related to the strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The theme this Segment will be “The future of humanitarian affairs: towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness”; and it will convene two panel discussions. 

The first panel discussion will focus on how humanitarian and development actors must work in ways that seek to reduce and manage the risks posed to people and communities vulnerable to humanitarian crises and the impacts of global challenges. The panel on “Promoting humanitarian innovation for improved response” will focus on how the humanitarian system can create an enabling environment for innovation and how it can ensure the identification and integration of innovations that address operational challenges and opportunities. 

For the first time this year, a Humanitarian Fair will showcase, in the corridors of the Palais des Nations, how innovation can contribute to humanitarian response in more than 20 booths from various UN and NGO partners, representatives of the civil society, as well as regional organizations and the private sector.

General Segment to review reports of subsidiary bodies

At the General Segment (18-25 July), the Council will review the reports of its subsidiary bodies and of other UN entities working in the economic and social fields. These bodies include the Council’s functional commissions, regional commissions, expert and ad hoc bodies. It will also consider the report of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti and a report of the Secretary General on South Sudan.

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 Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the report of the UN inter-agency task force on tobacco control.   


For more information: 

High-level Segment:
Coordination Segment:
Operational Activities Segment:
Humanitarian Affairs Segment:
General Segment: