ECOSOC Substantive Session Highlights Science and Culture
11 July 2013: The high-level segment of the 2013 Substantive Session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met from 1-4 July 2013, in Geneva, Switzerland, followed by the Coordination Segment on 5-9 July. The high-level segment's Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) focused on the role of science, technology and innovation (STI), and the potential of culture in promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Highlighting the AMR theme in his statement to the Council, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said innovation “lay at the heart of addressing the interlinked challenges of global development,” and must be locally adapted and build on homegrown knowledge and expertise. He said science, technology and culture are necessary elements for any post-2015 development agenda.
During the general debate, speakers emphasized the important role of STI and culture for sustainable development, economic growth and achieving the MDGs. Speakers pointed to: barriers, such as the digital divide; the importance of a predictable patent system; and emerging priorities for the post-2015 agenda, such as universal healthcare, the value of culture and equitable trading systems. Delegates expressed concern that lack of technology transfer, the economic crisis, and competing policy priorities in the post-2015 development agenda hinder the integration of STI into policies aimed at tackling global problems.
On ECOSOC's contribution to elaborating the post-2015 development agenda, ECOSOC President Nestor Osorio said the discussion provided an opportunity for the Council to make recommendations for the agenda, including on implementation and monitoring, and stressed the need for a more structural, systematic and systemic approach. Panelists included UN Under-Secretary for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, who said tackling inequality should be a priority. Speakers stressed, inter alia: that renewed partnerships and financial systems should enable developing countries to pursue their respective development agendas; that ECOSOC should remain the principal organ in the follow-up of all major UN development conferences; and the need to monitor implementation and measure partnership effectiveness and progress.
The 2013 AMR Ministerial Declaration on 'Science, technology and innovation (STI), and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the MDGs' is forthcoming.
The coordination segment focused on, inter alia, follow-up to the: 2012 Ministerial Declaration on “Promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).” On the role of the UN system in implementing the 2012 Ministerial Declaration, delegates: presented measures their countries were undertaking to boost job creation; underlined the importance of effective cooperation between the UN and other actors in order to generate decent jobs; and advocated special consideration of vulnerable groups, including women and persons with disabilities. Panel discussions during the coordination segment addressed: partnerships for productive capacity and decent work; using human rights instruments and International Labour Organization (ILO) standards and recommendations to achieve decent work for all; and financing for sustainable development.