The Council also periodically hosts special meetings 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 to develop a strategic response.
These special meetings have addressed global public health emergencies, including the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, avian flu in 2005, and Ebola in 2014. Most recently, the Council convened an informal ECOSOC Briefing on “Joining Forces: Effective Policy Solutions for Covid-19 Response” on 11 May 2020. ECOSOC has also held special meetings dedicated to economic-related emergencies such as food crises in Africa in 2005 and the global food crisis in 2008.
The Council was the first intergovernmental body to devote a special meeting to bringing all stakeholders together to consider policy recommendations to Governments on how to mitigate the global food crisis. The meeting was held with the participation of the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council. The Council is also considering issues related to cybercrimes and security on an ongoing basis, including in 2011 and 2013. Natural disasters, including floods in Mozambique in 2000, the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, the massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013 have also been discussed in the Council with a view to bringing attention to their impact on sustainable development while at the same time promoting coordinated action in support of the affected countries.
The ECOSOC Special Meeting on “Pathways to resilience in climate-affected SIDS, A Forward-Looking Resilience Building Agenda: Promises, results and next steps” in November 2018 focused on commitments made and results achieved to date in SIDS vulnerable to shocks, as a follow-up to the ECOSOC meeting on the hurricanes in 2017. The Council explored new and innovative approaches to financing and building climate resilience. The Council convened a meeting on Cyclone Idai in April 2019. The meeting called for further funding to meet the urgent requirements of the humanitarian appeals for the affected countries, and underscored the urgency to redouble efforts in combating climate change.