Ms. Shamshad Akhtar Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs Department of Economic and Social Affairs
One of the primary challenges we all face is that of an effective design of a Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda which is anticipated to be comprehensive, well integrated, bold and ambitious and yet practical and doable. Many unanswered questions still remain as tradeoffs in the development agenda are phenomenal.
- What should be at the core of this development agenda?
- How to prioritize the competing goals and targets?
- How to continue the focus on the acceleration towards reaching the MDGs, when the world is gripped with debates on transforming and augmenting the goals?
- How to balance the principles of universality with the flexibility of national discretion, without losing the emphasis on a broad vision, direction and targeting of the agenda?
- How to structure the enablers and means of implementation
Guidance from the UN documents that sowed the seeds for launching this global endeavor, and the recognition that we should not start from ground zero, are critical. There is a need for prioritization, pacing and sequencing of the agenda. These should be linked to ensure adequate delivery of pending historic international community agreements and conventions. The most important and obvious challenge in these processes is the convergence of the post-2015 agenda and the Rio+20 follow-up process. Dual focus on MDGs and the post 2015 framework is critical to ensure that the Millennium Declaration agenda is effectively accelerated. There is strong support for putting sustainability at the heart of the new agenda which should augur well for a convergence process, within the Post 2015 framework, of MDGs and SDGs in the context of forward looking debates and the follow up to Rio+20. Pervasive arguments exist for integrating the three dimensions of sustainability – social, economic and environmental –in all the work of the United Nations. It is important therefore for the OWG to offer its perspectives to feed into the forthcoming report being prepared for the September 2013 event.
Against the backdrop of the Rio Conference consultations are underway to examine what be the best way to integrate the three pillars in all UN strategy and operations. The process of dialogue and analytical work helps to think through an integrated sustainable development across the UN system. This calls for deeper cooperation among international community —an area where United Nations is working – at all levels including the global, regional and national level. Beyond that, it will also require a much stronger cooperation within the UN system across the different agencies and with other international organizations, such as the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organization.
The governance structure of the UN has to be better aligned to deliver on decisions efficiently. Efforts are underway to streamline the institutional governance. A review of the implementation of resolution 61/16 on strengthening the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and informal consultations among member states is underway for the past few months to develop concrete recommendations /measures to structure “the ECOSOC we want.” Coordination is critical to achieve coherence of the agenda, which has to focus on shifting the emphasis, from structural and functional discussions along the institutional lines, to thematic and integrated sessions. To enhance the relevance and value-added of ECOSOC and its focus on actions, the ECOSOC Bureau is looking at possibility of an enhanced Secretariat.
There has to be a well thought out dialogue between the ECOSOC Bureau and the BWIs, as well as an enhanced interface with the CEB, engaging the system through action and solution oriented outcomes. More effective alignment between the GA and ECOSOC would ensure complementarity between the two institutional bodies as well as among ECOSOC subsidiaries and the Executive Board of the UN funds and agencies is achieved, while turning ECOSOC into a knowledge platform. The Development Cooperation Forum and the UN Governance system need to be enhanced to better serve the requirements of the emerging global agenda.
The relationship and synergies between ECOSOC and the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development have to evolve so that there is an integrated governance system to agree on integrated approach to the Post 2015 sustainable development agenda. Critical lessons learnt have been brought to the forefront by a recent report on the Commission for Sustainable Development. While it served its purpose, the Commission fell short at driving forward the development agenda’s integration, implementation of agreements and means of implementation (such as finance, technology and capacity building) related to the modalities and mandate of the HLPF. Even though the exact shape and location of the forum and its relation to ECOSOC are currently under discussion, a viable solution to this will be helpful to mainstream sustainable development and support the implementation of a post-2015 development agenda. The forum will have to complement the work of ECOSOC and ECOSOC has to be supportive of HLPF and as such the development of two bodies should go hand-in-hand. The reform of Establishment of HLPF and strengthening of ECOSOC in a coordinated manner will help promote a system-wide and balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.