Your Excellency, Ambassador Munir Akram,
Your Excellency, Ambassador Collen Vixen Kelapile,
Distinguished members of both the outgoing Bureau and incoming Bureau of ECOSOC,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to join you as we mark the turnover of the Presidency of the Economic and Social Council. I wish to congratulate His Excellency Munir Akram and the outgoing members of the ECOSOC Bureau for a successful session, despite all the challenges and limitations posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your commitment and leadership ensured that the Council was able to deliver on its mandates, and demonstrate its relevance during these uncertain times.
Under your skillful leadership, the 2021 session of the High-level Political Forum successfully addressed gaps, challenges, solutions, and actions related to the implementation of the SDGs under the current COVID-19 crisis.
I also extend my congratulations to His Excellency Collen Vixen Kelapile and the incoming Bureau. I look forward to supporting your work and advancing the priorities of your Presidency.
As a Charter organ of the United Nations, ECOSOC has a powerful mandate to foster international cooperation on economic, social, and related issues, while promoting respect for human rights.
ECOSOC is a key instrument of multilateralism. It is a platform for global policy dialogue and norm setting that works to foster solutions to 21st century challenges.
We commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Economic and Social Council this year. In doing so, we reflected in particular on its valuable work, including of its vast array of subsidiary bodies and the UN entities that it coordinates.
The work of United Nations entities has been essential for helping countries respond and recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, while building back better for the future. The broad areas of its analytical and operational work include:
- socio-economic policies,
- data and information management,
- food security and nutrition,
- digital and other technologies,
- governance and institutional elements,
- drugs and crime, including cybercrime,
- forests and sustainable recovery, as well as the
- impact of the pandemic on various aspects of human rights.
The work of the subsidiary bodies of the Council confirmed early on, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable groups of society. Many of these bodies have directly supported developing countries, including LDCs, in their recovery efforts.
We should be proud of what the ECOSOC “ecosystem” has delivered through the Operational Activities Segment, the Humanitarian Affairs Segments, and the various Forums, including:
- the Financing for Development Forum and
- the Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation.
The key messages distilled from the Council’s Integration Segment were valuable inputs into the High-Level Political Forum.
The high-level engagements and the successful adoption of an ambitious outcome at the 2021 Financing for Development Forum, attest to its unique strength, especially during times of crisis where multilateral cooperation is vital. DESA, joining hands with the UN system and other relevant institutions, will continue to advance the implementation of the outcome document in the run up to the 2022 Forum, and beyond. Member States should also demonstrate concrete progress towards the calls they made at the 2021 Forum. For example, by:
- extending social protection,
- scaling up investment in SDGs,
- prioritizing grant finance for developing countries,
- strengthening inclusive dialogues on sovereign debt, and
- closing the digital divide.
Another highlight was the sixth annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs. I commend Ambassador Akram and the co-chairs of the Forum, Ambassadors Pildegovičs and Koba, for a very successful Forum. The Forum called for increased investments in basic science, mission-oriented innovation, modern digitalization infrastructures, scientific literacy, and skills. Life-long learning, and above all, effective science-policy interfaces, are essential. They can greatly accelerate innovations to solve global challenges. Research priorities need realignment with global public goods, and require more support from international collaboration mechanisms. Going forward, the Forum has great potential to help identify STI solutions, improving inclusion, and bring science and policy communities much closer together. Indeed, this has become more important than ever.
Member States and other stakeholders gathered just days ago for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and the High-level Segment of ECOSOC. Eight Heads of State and Government, more than 100 Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers and Vice Ministers, and about 200 speakers participated, as did many stakeholders.
Forty-two countries presented Voluntary National Reviews. A record number of VNR Labs, side events, special events and launches of reports, and exhibitions were held. And the Ministerial Declaration was adopted by consensus.
The discussions at the Forum reflected the urgency of responding to the pandemic and pushing back against a rising tide of poverty, hunger, and inequality. In the midst of global hardship, the messages at the HLPF were clear. The SDGs are more important than ever. They can serve as a compass toward building the types of equitable and sustainable societies that will prove more resilient in the face of future crises. At the same time, there was no doubt that progress during the Decade of Action will require significant transformations of socio-economic systems, and a renewed commitment to international cooperation and global solidarity.
Member States and other stakeholders considered that we must keep our focus on reducing climate change and environmental destruction, or risk recurrent crises. And one of the most common themes at the Forum was a call for universal, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Without this, building back better and leaving no one behind will be no more than a dream.
Looking to the future, the Council can further contribute to reenergizing a more inclusive and networked multilateralism – by strengthening collaboration and forging partnerships with civil society, the private sector and youth, building on existing platforms.
The innovations created by the Council – including the Partnership Forum and the Youth Forum – could be further strengthened so that all stakeholders have a more meaningful say in shaping ECOSOC’s policy guidance.
The upcoming session is a critical one for the Council. The adoption of resolution 75/290 on ECOSOC strengthening and HLPF, provides opportunities to strengthen the UN’s support to Member States in their efforts to recover and build a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future.
We will explore how the entirety of the ECOSOC system can contribute to these efforts. I look forward to the guidance from the incoming President and the new Bureau to deliver on ECOSOC’s mandates.
The Department of Economic and Social Affairs stands ready to engage with you to ensure an impactful session.
I thank you.