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Press Conference by President of Economic and Social Council

Press Conference by President of Economic and Social Council


Integrating the three pillars of sustainable development into United Nations development efforts would underpin the work of the Economic and Social Council in 2013, the organ’s newly elected President said at Headquarters today.

At a press conference on the Council’s programme of work for the year, Néstor Osorio (Colombia) said the results of the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development provided the Council with a clear basis for taking its agenda forward into the post-2015 development phase.

Mr. Osorio said the Council would be exchanging views with all 28 of its subsidiary bodies and had established a work programme encompassing special sessions on food security and nutrition, as well as meetings to address the challenges of integrating youth into society and young people’s participation in the global labour force.  The Council’s other activities would concern science, education and technology, he said, with the focus on “how to prepare the world and the youth for these innovations, and how to create the necessary recommendations to Governments and to the private sector as well in order to prepare the labour force for the innovative and new scientific and technological world.”

He said the Council’s relationships with the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) would be of particular importance in the upcoming session in light of the difficult world economic situation.  “The possibilities of financing, the possibilities of increasing trade, the possibilities of creating jobs within this macroeconomic picture we are seeing today is something we need to discuss with these institutions,” the President said, adding that his background as a former Ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO) put him in a good position to lead discussions on those matters.

As one of the pillars of the United Nations, he continued, the Council would spend its July session “identifying, analysing and recommending economic, social and now environmental programmes”.  It would address the serious challenges confronting the developing world, especially in the vital agriculture sector, which was plagued by such problems as scarcity of arable land and water, conflict over land use and the sustainability of methods and production.

Asked about a reference to eliminating poverty in United States President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, he welcomed that message as the sort of commitment needed from developed countries to tackle poverty and rising inequality.

In response to a question about how seriously the International Monetary Fund (IMF) took the Economic and Social Council, he said the Council must prove its relevance in order to gain the respect of such institutions.  While it was unable to offer the IMF assistance on certain matters, its current dialogue was aimed at coordinating improved efforts and increasing policy coherence.

Replying to a question about the possible elimination of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, he said no specific move had been made to abolish it.   However, a review was under way to determine its relevance, as well as the contributions of all subsidiary bodies so as to streamline the Council’s work after it had accumulated 60 years worth of mandates.

Asked about his earlier comments about the roles of the Security Council and Governments in protecting civilians, he said each case would be judged on its own merits.

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For information media. Not an official record.