[As prepared for delivery]
Mr. Antonio Marzano, President of the AICESIS, Mr. Patrick Venturini, Secretary-General, Ms. Hanifa Mezoui, Mr. Michel Kamano, Mr. Kim Dae Mo,
Mr. Michele Dau,
It is a pleasure to address the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions.
Above all, I want to simply say “thank you”.
Your work is crucial to strengthening the participation and engagement of civil society in government at the national and international levels.
Your workshops and meetings foster dialogue and focus much-needed attention on promoting social justice, deepening democracy, and advancing development.
Your contributions are especially important to ECOSOC, where civil society voices and perspectives play such an important role in ensuring that our agenda and goals are balanced and well-coordinated.
This hard work is vital, especially now.
Economies are still suffering from the financial, food and energy crises. Millions of people are jobless. Millions more have been pushed into extreme poverty.
Natural disasters have demanded higher levels of financial and logistical coordination.
Ongoing wars, conflicts, and humanitarian crises command our attention.
So does the threat of climate change.
Allow me to focus on one challenge in particular.
As you know, this September we will convene a major Summit to push for progress on the Millennium Development Goals.
We are five years from the 2015 deadline. While there are success stories in every part of the world, progress has been uneven.
There is more work to do – and none of it can be done by any single actor, acting alone.
Your national economic and social councils are critical.
I would urge continued action in two areas.
First, consider how your organizations can influence national development strategies to fully reflect the MDGs. Make every effort to shape the creation of national policies that support the Goals.
And second, strengthen your own economic and social councils so they can do even more to better the lives of the poor and vulnerable in your countries, including through increasing participation in democratic processes.
We look forward to continuing to work with you to meet the MDGs.
I also welcome the collaboration between your organization and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The letters of agreement you have exchanged create a sound basis for improving our joint work, especially in participatory governance and enhancing the role of economic and social councils in Africa.
It is heartening to see our relationship progress in this way.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish you success in your deliberations here and in follow-up actions back home.
Thank you very much.