New York

28 January 2020

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Joint Briefing by the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Economic and Social Council [as prepared for delivery]

President of the General Assembly,
President of the Economic and Social Council,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good morning to you all.
It is deeply encouraging to see two of the UN’s Charter bodies collaborating on so many critical issues this year, as we mark the Organization’s 75th anniversary.

I am very grateful to President Bande and President Jull for inviting me to join in today’s meeting.

I commend the work that is being undertaken under your leadership – whether on education, poverty, oceans or biodiversity in the General Assembly; or on the contribution of the UN system and the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Agenda in the Economic and Social Council.

And I commend, in particular, the joint work you are undertaking on youth, financing and support for Least Developed Countries. Each of these issues and the emphasis you are placing on them speak to the core of the 2030 Agenda and the principle of leaving no one behind.


As we embark on a Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs, the General Assembly and the ECOSOC have critical roles to play in translating the current buy-in for the SDGs into more ambitious implementation and major progress in people’s lives by 2030.

In this regard, allow me to highlight three specific areas where further collaboration between the GA and ECOSOC in 2020 can make a strong contribution.

The first opportunity relates to the operational activities of the UN System.

As you all know, 2020 is a QCPR year.

At the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment in May, we will have an opportunity to consolidate the ECOSOC’s role as the main accountability platform for the new RC system and the wider UN development system.

We look forward to a dynamic, interactive Operational Activities Segment during which Member States can assess how the UN development system reforms are unfolding on the ground. How we are moving, together, to move from resolutions to transformative results.

And – as the ECOSOC deals with the remaining business of the current QCPR - we look forward to a decision by Member States on the proposals the Secretary-General will be putting forward to strengthen the UN’s regional support and our multi country offices.

And in the fall, as the ECOSOC passes the bastion to the General Assembly, we will see the advent of a new QCPR.

The 2012 QCPR was a milestone resolution, with its focus on establishing a robust monitoring framework for the QCPR.

The 2016 QCPR was a landmark resolution, which laid the foundation for the most ambitious reform in the history of the UN development system.

And I am certain that the next QCPR will also be the first of its kind - as we move from making the system fit-for-purpose to accelerating action towards 2030.

We look forward to a QCPR that reflects the new era of the UN development system – a forward-leaning tool that takes the system’s collective accountability for results to the next level.


A second opportunity for collaboration and impact is the High-Level Political Forum.           

The HLPF has shown immense value as the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and I am always encouraged with the vibrancy of the different constituencies that it brings together. I am sure that the 2020 HLPF will be no different.

That Forum also provides an opportunity to pivot our focus from the nuts and bolts of the early institutional responses to the SDGs, to the lessons learned and support needed to bring that response to another level.

In addition, the General Assembly’s review of the ECOSOC and the HLPF can further enhance the effectiveness of the entire ECOSOC cycle - creating space and bringing rigor for a new generation of Voluntary National Reviews; bringing to life the integrated nature of the Goals; and ensuring better synergy between the Forum and the rest of the ECOSOC cycle, including the FfD forum.
The SDG Action Forum that the Secretary-General will convene in September will allow us to build on the in-depth findings of the HLPF and to ensure the SDGs stay at the very top of the political agenda.


A third area I would like to highlight is the question of synergy across the work of both organs.

Both the GA and ECOSOC, the Second Committee and ECOSOC Functional Commissions, have made incredibly strong contributions to the global development agenda since this Organization was established.

Both Organs have been instrumental in bringing the 2030 Agenda into being, and to ensuring that the perspective of countries in special situations and the world’s most vulnerable people are brought to the fore of the international affairs.

Over the past four years, we have seen many efforts to make the oversight functions of the GA and ECOSOC on issues pertaining to the 2030 Agenda fit for purpose.

But it is fair to say, that those efforts have not yet borne fruit.

It is incumbent on all of us to create the space to allow each Organ to evolve to deliver its full and unique potential. 

The ongoing meetings of the Second and Third Committees, coupled with the GA review of ECOSOC and the GA Alignment process, provide us with a unique opportunity to maximize the impact and added value of both the GA and ECOSOC on development matters.

Working together, in line with the prerogatives established by the Charter, the General Assembly and the ECOSOC can take bold steps to truly reposition sustainable development at the heart of the organization.

Because – as the Secretary-General has said time and time again – the 2030 Agenda is humanity’s best chance for a future of peace, dignity and prosperity for all.
As we mark the 75th anniversary, let us work together to make this a decisive year.


Let me conclude by reiterating the encouragement that is gained from your joint efforts as the Presidents of these two charter bodies.

On all of these issues, we in the Secretariat – in UN DESA, OHRLLS, DGACM – and across the UN Development System are here to support you.
And we look forward to working closely with you all as we make 2020 a year of urgency, and the 2020s a decade of action to deliver the SDGs.
Thank you.