About Us

The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.

The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.

Wide view of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber during the special meeting on the topic of "Ebola : A Threat to Sustainable Development". UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Coordination within the UN

ECOSOC links a diverse family of UN entities  (Organigram) dedicated to sustainable development, providing overall guidance and coordination. The entities include regional economic and social commissions, functional commissions facilitating intergovernmental discussions of major global issues, and specialized agencies, programmes and funds at work around the world to translate development commitments into real changes in people’s lives.

Reforms over the last decade, particularly General Assembly resolution 68/1, have strengthened ECOSOC’s leading role in identifying emerging challenges, promoting innovation, and achieving a balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental. ECOSOC is charged with giving special attention to coordinated follow-up on major UN conferences and summits.

Partnership with the rest of the world

Building on its coordination role within the UN system, ECOSOC is a gateway for UN partnership and participation by the rest of the world. It offers a unique global meeting point for productive dialogues among policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, foundations, businesses, youth and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations.

A spotlight on global issues

Each year, ECOSOC structures its work around an annual theme of global importance to sustainable development. This ensures focused attention, among ECOSOC’s array of partners, and throughout the UN development system. 

By emphasizing combined economic, social and environmental concerns, ECOSOC encourages agreement on coherent policies and actions that make fundamental links across all three.

ECOSOC’s annual High-Level Segment includes:

  • High-Level Political Forum provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, and reviews progress in implementing sustainable development commitments
  • Development Cooperation Forum reviews trends and progress in development cooperation

Other sessions encompass:

  • Integration Segment promotes integrated actions on economic, social and environmental issues, within the United Nations system and beyond
  • Humanitarian Affairs Segment strengthens coordination of UN humanitarian efforts
  • Operational Activities for Development Segment provides overall guidance for UN funds and programmes
  • Coordination and Management Meeting reviews reports of ECOSOC subsidiary and expert bodies; promotes UN system coordination on development issues; and considers special country or regional concerns 
  • Youth Forum brings youth voices into discussions on global policy-making on development issues of the day
  • Partnership Forum encourages collaboration among Governments, businesses and foundations, non-governmental organizations, academia and Parliamentarians
  • Special meetings to address global development emergencies or crises, to raise awareness and to serve as a high level policy platform for coordination of actors working on a specific situation