ECOSOC Holds 2013 Substantive Session, Suspends Negotiations on Ministerial Declaration

ECOSOC29 July 2013: The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has suspended its 2013 Substantive Session, which met from 1-26 July 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland, as members were unable to reach consensus on the draft Ministerial Declaration. Negotiations on the text will continue in October 2013, in New York, US.

Addressing the High-Level Segment (HLS), which focused on the role of science, technology, innovation and culture in achieving sustainable development, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Report 2013, showcasing new statistics on successes and challenges in meeting the MDGs by 2015. The HLS also featured a policy dialogue between the UN, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on current developments in the world economy, and panel discussions on the development of technologies in Africa and least developed countries (LDCs), universal health coverage and the post-2015 development agenda.

Segments on coordination, operational activities and humanitarian issues also took place, followed by the General SegmentDuring the session, the Council adopted resolutions and decisions related to, inter alia: mainstreaming gender into all UN policies and programmes; requesting the UN Secretary-General to establish the Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs); mainstreaming disability into the post-2015 development agenda; and concluding the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) on 20 September 2013 and replacing it with the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF).

The Council also, inter alia: encouraged governments to initiate preparations for the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in 2016, with Ecuador offering to host the conference in Quito; urged UN entities not actively cooperating in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society to do so and to commit to a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society; and marked the anniversary of the 10-year Framework of Programmes (10YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), with governments formally adopting it and designating the Council as its interim reporting body.

The Council also discussed the Secretary-General's report on implementing UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 61/16 on strengthening ECOSOC, which recommends: shifting to a more issues-based approach and focusing on a main theme addressed through all relevant parts of the system with relevant mandates and specialization; mainstreaming the Council with other relevant bodies; and establishing a more structured and better-defined interaction with the Security Council. While speakers expressed commitment to and support for strengthening ECOSOC, views diverged regarding whether to separate the Council's segments. Some supported the idea to switch to segments held at different times throughout the year, while others felt that if sessions were “dismembered,” the Council would not be able to fully carry out its function as the main coordinator of the UN system on development.

In closing remarks, ECOSOC President Nestor Osorio emphasized the Council's importance as a hub and platform for multi-stakeholder cooperation, given the increasing roles played by non-state actors. Navid Hanif, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), on behalf of Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, stressed ECOSOC's primary role in building a unified post-2015 development agenda. [ECOSOC 2013 Substantive Session Website] [ECOSOC Media Center] [UN Office at Geneva Press Release] [The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013]