ECOSOC Partnership Forum Discusses Innovation for Sustainable Development

ECOSOC24 April 2013: The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held a Partnership Forum in preparation for the 2013 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR). With the 2013 AMR focusing on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the Partnership Forum took up the theme of “Partnering for Innovative Solutions for Sustainable Development.”

The Forum convened at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 24 April 2013, organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), the UN Office for Partnerships, the UN Global Compact and the Global Partnerships Forum. Key outcomes from the event will be reported to the ECOSOC high-level segment during its substantive session in July 2013.

Opening the Forum, Néstor Osorio, ECOSOC President, called for integrating innovation into national priorities of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and middle income countries, and for building capacities and mobilizing the financial resources to do so. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposed a new UN Partnership Facility to “support partnership work across all external partners, all substantive mandates and all UN entities,” and expressed his intent to ensure effectiveness and accountability of UN partnerships. He added that partnership is no substitute for official development assistance (ODA), and called on countries to pursue the 0.7% ODA target.

The event included policy dialogues on “Partnerships for sustainability” and “The changing face of technology and innovation.” Reporting on the outcomes of these sessions, Amir Dossal, Founder and Chair, Global Partnerships Forum, emphasized the need to leverage innovative partnerships, engage young people, and empower women. He said that, according to participants, internet access should be seen as a new human right, and therefore called for promoting education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In addition, four “Partnership Clinics” focused on moving from policy to action, particularly in Africa. Participants proposed, inter alia: a UN political declaration on achieving sustainable growth for research and development of new medical technologies, diagnosis and medicine; to develop a scalable, affordable, and usable platform to be used by midwives in order to register births; and investment in experimental, socially responsible design strategies that bring higher risk but could have great potential.

Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called for new ways to foster emerging businesses that promise to ease youth unemployment.

The ECOSOC AMR was mandated at the 2005 World Summit, and assesses progress made in implementing the MDGs and other goals and targets. [Meeting Website]  [Meeting Programme] [Statement of UN Secretary-General] [IISD RS Sources] [UN Press Release]