Strong Economic and Social Council Needed to Promote Integration of Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development, Says Deputy Secretary-General

13 May 2013

Strong Economic and Social Council Needed to Promote Integration of Three Dimensions of Sustainable Development, Says Deputy Secretary-General

13 May 2013
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Strong Economic and Social Council Needed to Promote Integration of Three

Dimensions of Sustainable Development, Says Deputy Secretary-General

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as delivered, at the Economic and Social Council meeting on integrating the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, in New York, 13 May:

I am pleased to join you for this important ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] integration meeting.

We need a mobilization of efforts and innovative action in specific areas in order to address the challenges of our increasingly complex world.  Sustainable development provides a conceptual framework for our work ahead.  That is why it is at the core of the post-2015 development agenda.

Last year, at Rio+20, Member States re-committed to the three dimensions of sustainable development — social, economic and environmental.  They reaffirmed the primacy of the fight against poverty and inequality.  They emphasized the importance of changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.  And they acknowledged the role of ECOSOC in overseeing the balanced integration of the three dimensions throughout the work of the UN.  Your Ministerial Meeting last September strengthened the multilateral system for sustainable development.

Today, you are here to examine how science, technology and innovation can contribute to win-win or even triple-win solutions in energy and agriculture.  ECOSOC’s focus on these sectors is timely.

As you know, “Sustainable Energy for All” is a high priority for the Secretary-General.  The Initiative provides a partnership platform for Governments, multilateral banks, business and civil society to promote universal access to electricity, while doubling renewable energy and rates of efficiency.   More than 70 developing countries are already engaged.  Billions of dollars have been committed.  Later, you will hear more from Mr. Kandeh Yumkella, Director-General of UNIDO [United Nations Industrial Development Organization] and Chair of UN-Energy.

At Rio+20, world leaders also emphasized the need to revitalize the agricultural sector.  Agriculture features dominantly in the Zero Hunger Challenge, launched by the Secretary-General in Rio.  I also had the privilege of launching, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific, during the recent ESCAP [Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific] ministerial meeting in Bangkok.

The Zero Hunger Challenge aims to end childhood stunting over the next two years; promote sustainable food systems; double the productivity and income of smallholder farmers; and eliminate the loss and waste of food.  We must work together to achieve these important goals.

Rio+20 underscored the need to strengthen system-wide coherence and integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system.  This means working more closely together — in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner at all levels — to avoid duplication, ensure synergies and increase the impact of our efforts.

In Rio, Member States also decided to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on sustainable development.  As we all are aware, discussions are currently ongoing on the forum’s mandate and modalities of operation.  Whatever form it finally takes, the high-level political forum will have an important role in bringing the UN system together on sustainable development.

At the same time, the UN continues to strive for a coherent post-Rio and post-2015 system-wide vision and agenda.  Many are already working to ensure that a single UN development agenda emerges after 2015.  A UN system task team is supporting Member States in elaborating a UN post-2015 development agenda.  A part of this team is supporting the General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

With its mandate to increase system-wide coherence and coordination, ECOSOC has a key role to play in the follow-up to Rio+20.  Member States will decide how ECOSOC will relate to the high-level political forum.

A strong forum is essential for strengthening the institutional framework on sustainable development.  And we need a strong ECOSOC to promote the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in the UN system.  The Council’s legitimacy and convening power is also important for attracting key stakeholders from Government, the private sector, the academic world and civil society.

The world is counting on the UN to deliver, to be a catalytic force and to set the direction for the road ahead.  This means that we have to work with the Millennium Development Goals not yet achieved and at the same time look beyond 2015 and the new sustainable development agenda.

Let us work together to demonstrate that the UN can deliver on the present Millennium Development Goals and on sustainable development for all.  Let us make the future we want a reality.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.