The Economic and Social Council opened its 2023 session today, electing its bureau and adopting its provisional agenda.
The Council elected by acclamation, Albert Ranganai Chimbindi (Zimbabwe), Arrmanatha Christia wan Nasir (Indonesia) and Maurizio Massari (Italy) as Council Vice-Presidents for the 2023 session. Paula Narváez (Chile) was elected Vice-Chair by secret ballot.
Delivering her first remarks as President, Lachezara Stoeva noted that the coming year will be especially challenging as the international community works to reverse the impact of COVID-19 on the Sustainable Development Goals, while facing massive food insecurity, energy shortages and financial crises, triggered by the war in Ukraine. Highlighting her priorities, she said the Council and the high-level political forum must provide solid, evidence-based, innovative and actionable policy guidance to curb and address the pandemic’s impact on efforts to realize the Goals.
“At the moment, only half of the countries have a plan to recover from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on education,” she said. “We need much more ambitious efforts to reform and strengthen our social protection and health systems, if we are to leave no one behind”. She highlighted the triple planetary crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, emphasizing that her other priorities include efforts to bridge the “great finance divide” identified in the 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development report by the Inter-Agency Task Force focused on that issue, ensuring that the forum and the Council contribute to preparations for the 2023 Sustainable Development Goals Summit; and both support and reinforce the work of the United Nations and its partners in addressing humanitarian challenges.
She noted that the Council has been asked to further advance the recommendations on convening a biannual summit between the Council, the Group of 20, international financial institutions and the United Nations Secretary-General for a sustainable, inclusive and resilient economy. As such, she planned to follow up on the Secretary-General's recommendations addressed in his Our Common Agenda report. The Council must further open its doors to not only youth but to civil society and all stakeholders. She intends to do so in all meetings. To improve its work and impact, she aims to implement the General Assembly recommendations adopted in June 2021 for reforming the work of the Council and the forum.
Delivering parting remarks, outgoing Council President Collen Vixen Kelapile (Botswana) said he was deeply honoured to have served as Council President, from 23 July 2021 to 25 July 2022 — the first time Botswana had assumed the Presidency of a principal United Nations organ charged with carrying out sustainable development. He expressed gratitude for the full support received from Council members and major groups, who assisted him in fulfilling his eight broad priorities.
“While we expected be on the path to recovery from the pandemic this year, we are still faced with ever growing global challenges that require us to work even harder together and in a coordinated manner,” he said. Across all efforts, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals must be the guiding framework, a message delivered “loud and clear” in meetings held throughout the year under the theme, “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID‑19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Highlighting meetings during his presidency, he said he is particularly encouraged by the outcomes of the Council review, demonstrating that the 54-member organ can more effectively carry out its mandate, while also discharging its COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Thanks to this review, the Council now has a new coordination segment, which — along with the revitalized partnership forum — will offer fresh ideas and policy suggestions to guide and inspire the work of the subsidiary bodies.
In addition, he said, the Council invited the chairs and bureaux of the functional commissions and expert bodies, Member States and the Secretariat to implement the final recommendations. This will be an important step to providing the Council and Member States with the tools needed to accelerate implementation of the Goals. The revitalized partnership forum in February meanwhile brought together United Nations entities, international financial institutions, international organizations, local governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and others to exchange new ideas and priorities for the high-level political forum for sustainable development.
The 20 June meeting on “The Transition from Relief to Development” allowed the Council to address conflict, post-conflict and humanitarian emergencies, with a particular focus on Haiti and the Sahel, guiding country level coordination and delivering better results. To strengthen coordination, he held joint meetings with the President of the General Assembly, Secretary-General and the Chair of Peacebuilding Commission, notably in implementing Assembly resolutions related to the strengthening of the Council. He also convened meetings to draw attention to outcomes of the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) in December 2021.
He went on to note that the 2022 operational activities for development segment underscored the need for global solidarity to rescue the Goals, demonstrating the value added of enhanced coordination and whole-of-system approach by the development system under the leadership of its resident coordinators. As well, the Council continued to champion issues of interest to countries in special situations: least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and African countries. Given their “immense” challenges, he fully supported all initiatives aimed at addressing their needs, and called for boosting solidarity, partnerships and support their sustainable recovery.
To promote civil society in the high-level political forum, he held extensive consultations with the co-chairs of the coordination mechanism for major groups and stakeholders, and secured funding from Estonia, Germany and Switzerland to facilitate their inclusion. For persons with disabilities, New Zealand provided sign language interpretation for most sessions. He described 2023 as a “crucial” year, as the political forum will meet under auspices of both the Council and the General Assembly.
As the meeting drew to a close, Mohammad Kurniadi Koba (Indonesia) said his country stands ready to support all initiatives that strengthen multilateralism. He urged the Council to avoid duplication and “working in siloes”, calling for “multilateralism that delivers” and is action oriented. He encouraged the Council to provide strong contributions to address the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine on food and energy prices, and work to bridge the financing gap for sustainable development.
Petronellar Nyagura (Zimbabwe) urged delegates to “focus on what works well” in a revitalized high-level political forum. She underscored the critical importance of stimulating discussions on how long-term and new technologies can accelerate achievement the Sustainable Development Goals. “Let us be proactive,” she said, with the 2030 Agenda as the guiding light.
Paula Narváez Ojeda (Chile) said her country is at the service of the 2030 Agenda.
Also today, the Council revised the dates of its 2023 youth forum to 18 to 20 April 2023, adopting as orally revised a resolution on the working arrangements for its 2023 session (document E/2023/L.1).
In accordance with established practice, she drew a lot to determine the seating arrangement for the July 2022-July 2023 session, selecting Afghanistan to take first seat, with others to follow in alphabetical order.