The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has commenced a new annual cycle, and the incoming President offered an indication of focus areas for the year.
Collen Vixen Kelapile, the Permanent Representative of Botswana to the UN, was elected President of ECOSOC for the 2022 session, succeeding Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan. With the 2022 ECOSOC session, which will run from 23 July 2021 to 22 July 2022, a set of reforms take effect that were agreed through a recently concluded review process. At the handover ceremony on 23 July 2021, Kelapile reminded governments that the 2022 ECOSOC session will include: a newly mandated Coordination Segment, the Partnership Forum, and the newly mandated Meeting on Transition from Relief to Development.
The President said the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs remain a formidable blueprint for every country.
Kelapile said the “current surge of COVID-19 across the world, and its much more transmittable variants, threatens to further derail” economic recovery, and efforts to contain COVID-19 are “very fragile and imbalanced” between developing and developed countries. In addition, the pandemic has increased SDG financing needs by an annual 2.5 percentage points of GDP for all low-income development countries, he reported. However, he said the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs remain a formidable blueprint for every country.
Kelapile outlined eight pillars that he considered “obvious” areas to make rapid gains and realize an SDG-guided recovery from the pandemic. The areas are:
- urgent access to vaccines for everyone, a topic on which he will convene a Special Meeting of ECOSOC part-way through the session;
- creating fiscal space for COVID-19 response and recovery;
- identifying and addressing the real root causes of inequality, such as structural racism, which he said “does not sit well at all” with his country and others that are “presumably economically doing well”;
- resuming development after conflicts, including by utilizing the Meeting on Transition from Relief to Development;
- ensuring the transfer of technology, supporting the creation of knowledge everywhere, and closing the digital divide;
- advancing the climate action agenda and supporting an ambitious post-2020 biodiversity framework at the 15th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 15), and scaling up ambition for sustainable use of oceans through the second UN ocean conference;
- leveraging input from people directly affected by or with a contribution to reinforce intergovernmental decision-making, and embracing the value of diverse contributions and multi-stakeholder engagement; and
- hearing from global youth on keeping “the compass on the SDGs in the current crisis.”
The President also discussed the July 2022 session of the HLPF. He noted that it will review in-depth the following SDGs: 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals). On the Forum’s negotiated outcome, he said it should be a strong “and hopefully another consensus-based” Declaration, that makes a limited number of recommendations for transformative policy actions.
He called on countries presenting VNRs in 2022 to conduct “innovative, evidence-based and inclusive” VNR processes. He said that he will suggest limiting the number of VNR presentations at the 2022 HLPF in order to “ensure enough time for meaningful interaction on each review,” while giving priority to first-time presenters. In this way the HLPF can maximize the value of the VNRs, he said.