ECOSOC’s high-level segment ends with renewed vigour on “Empowerment, Inclusiveness and Equality”

By Manik Mehta, United Nations, New York 

UNITED NATIONS, July 22 (NNN-BERNAMA) — As the High-level Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) closed on Friday, President Inga Rhonda King observed that the session had made a significant contribution to advancing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

By “increasing awareness and galvanizing efforts towards empowerment, inclusiveness and equality”, the entire ECOSOC system worked to address gaps and challenges, provide integrated policy recommendations, and review progress, which are all at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, she said.

King, the ambassador and permanent representative of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations, was elected seventy-fourth President of the Economic and Social Council on July 26, 2018.

“I am confident that our deliberations on the theme during this cycle have moved us all to double our efforts to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” she observed, pointing out that the High-level Segment had emphasized the transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda.

Her comments underlined the importance of inclusiveness when she stressed the need for an integrated approach to achieve the SDGs and “to reduce inequality, end deprivations, and leave no one behind.” 

“We have seen that reaching to the local level, empowering people, giving them voice and including them in decision-making leads to better outcomes, with stronger support to implementation”, King said. “And we have heard that we must commit to, and undertake, deliberate, decisive, transformative actions to accelerate implementation and achieve the SDGs by 2030”. 

The High-level Segment broadened the discussion around the 2030 Agenda by looking at long-term trends and scenarios, which King credited to General Assembly resolution 72/305, calling it “a great accomplishment”. 

The 2019 ECOSOC theme has been “Visions and projections for the future of the SDGs”. 

“We heard that the world is at a turning point” King said. “Several mega trends are unfolding that will greatly impact on the delivery of the SDGs by 2030 and beyond.  Some bring immediate threats – such as the looming debt crisis or uncertainties on growth or inequality-; others bring existential threats such as climate change, pollution or biodiversity loss.  Others bring both threat and opportunities such as population trends, urbanization — or technologies, which need to be carefully managed so that it supports the common good.” 

She identified education as a key to success.  While solutions needed to be multilateral, there was still uncertainty about how exactly to achieve some of the in-depth transformations needed to realize the SDGs – “notably in the way we live, work, produce and consume.  We need more reflection and exchange”.  

Another key message from the ECOSOC deliberations was that “governments must reinvent themselves” and be more agile. “We need a government that can react swiftly to urgent trends while keeping the compass on the long term.  We need a government that engages and listens to people.  Participation is facilitated by new technologies and other developments.” 

She added that “we also need to find ways to engage the poorest and most vulnerable in the decisions that impact on their lives.”    

The UN was this week in the grip of what is called the “SDG fever”, with permanent missions of several countries such as Japan, Brazil, etc. organizing events on the SDG subject. India also organized an event called “From Commitment to Achievement”, with Rajiv Kumar, vice chairman of the National Institution for Transforming India, highlighting India’s experiences in localizing the sustainable development goals.

India has set up its first SDG coordination centre in Haryana state, and has also created SDG vision plans in Haryana, Uttarakhand, Assam and Madhya Pradesh in collaboration with UN agencies. India has also organized a plethora of activities and enacted measures to set up several institutions and tools to move on the path to achieving the SDGs.

The administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Achim Steiner, who participated as a panelist at the India event, said that he was “highly impressed” by India’s steadfast commitment to lift people out of poverty through economic and social development. He spoke about hundreds of millions of people who moved out of “multidimensional poverty” from one survey to the next.

“This progress was largely driven by South Asia: in India there were 271 million fewer people in poverty in 2016 than in 2006 (despite the high population growth in absolute terms).  I am impressed that India has lifted some 271 million people out of poverty in the past decade,” Steiner said.