Calling Upcoming SDG Summit ‘A Pivotal Moment’, New President Presents Priorities towards Achieving Global Goals, as 2024 Economic and Social Council Session Opens
The Economic and Social Council, opening its 2024 session today, elected its bureau and adopted its provisional agenda.
The Council first elected Paula Narváez Ojeda (Chile) as its President by acclamation. It then elected by acclamation Akan Rakhmetullin (Kazakhstan) from the Asia-Pacific States; Ivan Šimonović (Croatia) from the Eastern European States; and Robert Rae (Canada) from the Western European and other States as Council Vice-Presidents for the 2024 session. The election of the Vice-President from the African States will be held at a later date.
Delivering her opening remarks as Council President, Ms. Narváez Ojeda commended the vision of the outgoing President, Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria) during its 2023 session, observing that she had steered the work of Council and the high-level political forum on sustainable development in the lead up to the Sustainable Development Summit in September.
“I will work with you to leverage the diverse work and expertise of the ECOSOC system,” she stressed, noting that the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Summit in September will be a pivotal moment towards achieving the 2030 Agenda. In this context, the Council’s 2023 session and the 2024 high-level political forum on sustainable development will be convened under the theme “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: the effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions”.
Presenting her priorities for the new session, she underlined the importance of leveraging the Council’s policy guidance in an international context of multiple crisis, focusing on food crisis and strengthening humanitarian aid, while also addressing gaps in international financial architecture. Spotlighting the Summit of the Future in 2024 and the World Social Summit in 2025, she also said the Council should contribute to the upcoming Conferences for small island developing States and landlocked developing countries.
Moreover, she said that the Council will focus on concrete solutions for climate action in the face of the triple crisis, promote gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, while also strengthening institutions in the context of technological change and engaging civil society. “We have an ambitious session ahead of us. I count on your active engagement in all aspects of the work”, she underscored, emphasizing that those present share a responsibility to work together towards achieving the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
In her parting remarks, outgoing Council President Stoeva noted that the world is still grappling with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, escalating inequalities, debt and climate change. With record levels of food insecurity, along with increasing numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is in peril. The evident answer lies in getting the 2030 Agenda road map back on track. In the past year, the Council has become ever-more inclusive, with not only the voices of the United Nations system, international financial institutions and the scientific community — but also civil society and young people from around the world.
The high-level political forum came back in full force, with 38 countries presenting their national progress and setbacks in the voluntary national reviews — including the European Union for the first time, she recalled. Citing close work with representatives of major groups and other stakeholders, she said: “Yes, oftentimes we might not like what we hear but we need to hear it.” She also highlighted the Development Cooperation Forum, the Special Meeting on International Cooperation in Tax Matters and the Financing for Development Forum, which generated ideas and advanced policy dialogue.
She also recalled the special meeting of the Council on social and economic measures to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity — an important contribution to understanding how implementation of the 2030 Agenda can contribute to atrocity and conflict prevention. The Council continued to deepen the linkages between peace and development, enhancing its collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission through joint meetings in December 2022 and June 2023. Intensified efforts were taken to address the multi-faceted crisis in Haiti, through the work of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti and a special meeting on food security in Haiti to mobilize urgent action and resources.
Many Council members took the floor to hail the leadership of outgoing President Stoeva and the achievements of the 2023 session, while calling for stepped-up cooperation and new contributions to advancing the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The representative of Costa Rica, welcoming the election of another woman as Council President, emphasized that members must advance “united in action” in the quest for the three pillars of sustainable development. Kazakhstan’s representative recalled the depth and breadth of the meetings held under President Stoeva, affirming that her delegation will continue to work to implement the Council’s noble objectives “to bring people and issues together”.
Addressing specifics, Colombia’s delegate invited the Council to continue incorporating a session devoted to middle-income countries within the high-level political forum and underscored the importance of the Statistical Commission for the Global South in establishing criteria that go beyond gross domestic product (GDP).
However, Indonesia’s delegate highlighted the collective failure to stay on track with previously set goals, expressing hope that the “golden momentum” of the SDG Summit and Summit of the Future will “put us back on track” to push much-needed transformative actions. The representative of Canada expressed hope that the Council will assume an increasingly significant role in light of the significance of global crises. “We have some work to do together”, he underscored.
Navid Hanif, Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Affairs said the Council’s priorities are well defined, while expressing his support in the follow-up to the SDG Summit and in the work towards the Summit of the Future. Expressing hope that the new Bureau will “advance ECOSOC’s role in bringing the world together”, he said the Council has a capacity to re-energize a more inclusive and networked multilateralism that is effective and equitable.
The Council then turned to the provisional agenda of the 2024 session (document E/2024/1), adopting it without a vote.
Next, the Council considered the draft resolution titled “Working arrangements for the 2024 session of the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2024/L.1). Adopting it without a vote, the Council decided on working arrangements and dates for the 2024 session, including holding the youth forum from Tuesday, 16 April, to Thursday, 18 April 2024; the high-level political forum on sustainable development from Monday, 8 July, to Friday, 12 July 2024; and the high-level segment of the Council, including the three-day ministerial segment of the high-level political forum on sustainable development, from Monday, 15 July, to Thursday, 18 July 2024.
In accordance with established practice, Ms. Narváez Ojeda then drew a lot to determine the seating arrangement for the July 2023-July 2024 session, selecting Croatia to take the first seat, with others to follow in English alphabetical order.