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ECOSOC DISCUSSES WORLD FOOD SECURITY AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION ON STRENGTHENING ECOSOC
18 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon held an interactive discussion with the Chair of the Committee on World Food Security after he presented the Committee’s report; heard the introduction of reports by the Secretary-General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on strengthening ECOSOC and on mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system; and held an interactive discussion with the co-facilitators of the process for the further review of the implementation of the resolution on the strengthening of ECOSOC.

Yaya Olaniran, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Agencies in Rome and Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, presenting the report of the Committee on World Food Security, said that four years after the reform, the Committee continued to benefit from as well as to strengthen some of the main features introduced by the reform, such as more inclusive and expanded stakeholder participation and more focused debates and discussions at the annual plenary session.  One of the main achievements of the Committee on World Food Security had been the endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, and Forests in the Context of National Food Security.

In the interactive discussion, speakers said that the Committee was a unique negotiating forum where fruitful dialogue among Member States could take place on the important matter of food security.  Deep concern was expressed about the constant increase of international food prices, with adverse effects for developing countries.  How could the Committee on Food Security tackle those issues in the immediate future?  Were there any international support mechanisms available which could be extended to developing countries in order to ensure food security?

Speaking in the interactive discussion were Russia, Cuba and Ethiopia. 

Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council, said that the report recommended that the Council should shift to a more issue-based approach and should focus on a main theme addressed through all relevant parts of the system with relevant mandates and specialization.  The report made a specific proposal to mainstream the Council with other relevant bodies, and also recommended a more structured and better defined interaction with the Security Council.

Marion Barthelemy, Division for Sustainable Development of the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system, said that the report included successes and challenges encountered so far, and tried to identify lessons learned.  The report concluded overall that there were many institutional strengths and achievements in integrating the various dimensions of sustainable development but there were also challenges.  A few recommendations were included in the report, including that the Secretary-General develop a roadmap for accelerating progress in the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in the United Nations system.  
George Talbot, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference, said that sustainable development was now central in international agendas and its importance had been reaffirmed in the Rio+20 conference.  The Council was working on developing a number of processes which would give shape and form to the agenda.  Among those processes were the development of the post-2015 agenda, which was expected to start taking shape in the next session and beyond, and the ongoing work of the Working Group on sustainable development goals.

Benedicte Frankinet, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference, said that in the philosophy of the proposal of the co-facilitators, the whole idea was to unpack the very compact work of ECOSOC that in the view of the majority of Member States prevented it from playing a strategic role.  By organizing the work of ECOSOC in different segments, as suggested, the idea was to allow each segment to accomplish its work.  In order to do this, ECOSOC had to look deeply into its agenda and methods of work, and mobilize the machinery around it.

Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that comprehensive changes were required in order to create a Council with greater collective thinking and the capacity to formulate effective global policies within the United Nations system.  The Council must function more effectively and exploit its strengths, which included the ability to attract and integrate contributions from civil society.   Mr. Osorio asked everyone to maintain their level of work to ensure that the Council was successful and that it remained relevant and efficient in discharging its mandate.   

In the general discussion, speakers said that they were committed to and supported the strengthening of ECOSOC.  There were diverging views on separation of segments of the Council.  While some speakers supported the idea to switch to segments held at different times throughout the year, other speakers felt that if the sessions were dismembered, the Council would not be able to fully carry out its Charter function of being the main coordinator of the United Nations system on development.  The reform process should strengthen the current structures, and to achieve that, there was a need to amend the geographical representation of regions in the Council’s machinery. 

Speaking in the general discussion were Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Cuba, Venezuela, New Zealand, Mexico, European Union, Spain, Brazil and the United States.

At the end of the meeting, the Council took note of the following documents: the report of the Secretary-General on the mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system (A/69/79-E/2013/69), the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security (A/68/73-E/2013/59), and the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (A/67/736-E/2013/7). 

With regards to Agenda Item 8, it was proposed that the Council modify the title to reflect the most updated information.  It was proposed that the title include a reference to General Assembly resolution 61/16.  The modified title would read as –‘Implementation of General Assembly resolutions 50/227, 52/12 B, 57/270 B, 60/265 and 61/16’.  The modified title would be included in the agenda of the Council in 2014. 

The Economic and Social Council will resume its work on Friday, 19 July, at 10 a.m., when it is scheduled to hold a panel discussion to mark the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns.

Opening Remarks

MARTIN SAJDIK, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that food security was a priority area for the Economic and Social Council.  The Second Committee of the General Assembly had held a special joint meeting on food security and nutrition to scale up the global response.  The President of the Economic and Social Council, Nestor Osorio, had joined Yaya Olaniran, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, at a briefing on the work of the Committee in New York last May.  It was clear that food security and nutrition should be central in the post-2015 development agenda if they wanted to achieve a world free of hunger.  Mr. Sajdik stressed that it was necessary to strengthen the Council’s role as a thought leader on development and to strengthen the relationship with the Committee on World Food Security.  Today was a distinct opportunity to listen to the Chair’s presentation and engage in a substantive dialogue on food security.
 
Documentation

The Council has before it the report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security (A/68/73–E/2013/59).

Presentation of Report of Committee on World Food Security

YAYA OLANIRAN, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, presenting the report of the Committee on World Food Security, said that four years after the reform, the Committee continued to benefit from as well as to strengthen some of the main features introduced by the reform, such as more inclusive and expanded stakeholder participation, and more focused debates and discussions at the annual plenary session.  One of the main achievements of the Committee on World Food Security had been the endorsement of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries, Forests in the Context of National Food Security, at the Committee’s Special Session in May 2012.  The Guidelines promoted secure tenure rights and equitable access to land for all stakeholders. 

Another major achievement was the adoption of the Global Strategic Framework for Food Security and Nutrition, approved at the Committee’s thirty-ninth session to improve coordination and guide synchronized action.  It covered a broad range of topics such as the promotion of smallholder-sensitive investment in agriculture, and addressed food price volatility, gender issues in food security and nutrition, and agricultural productivity, among others.  The Committee had also launched a consultative process to develop and ensure broad ownership of principles for responsible agricultural investment.  At present, an Open-Ended Working Group had been established to help guide the process.  There were a lot of problems with respect to food insecurity in protracted crises and the Committee endorsed a consultative and inclusive process to develop an Agenda for Action for Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises.

Another work-stream of the Committee on World Food Security was looking into how well the Committee was meeting its overall objectives.  ECOSOC could help in disseminating it so that countries would feel comfortable that they were not being monitored by the Committee on World Food Security.  The reports of the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition provided the scientific background for the Committee’s policy recommendation on topics such as land tenure and international investments in agriculture.  The Committee on World Food Security recommendations on Food Security and Climate Change were presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a step forward in the intergovernmental coordination around food security, after Rio+ 20.  Two reports on investing in smallholders for food security and nutrition and biofuels would be presented at the fortieth session of the Committee.  ECOCOSC was pivotal to the success of the Committee on World Food Security.  The post-2015 agenda was one that they all had to work on to make the world a better place. 

Interactive Discussion

Russian Federation said that the Committee was a unique negotiating forum where fruitful dialogue among Member States could take place on the important matter of food security.  It was important for the Committee to retain its intergovernmental character with regard to decision-making.  

Cuba said that it was deeply concerned about the constant increase of international food prices.  This negative phenomenon had adverse effects for developing countries.  Food security should be addressed at the global level, and developed countries should respect their commitments vis-à-vis developing countries.  How could the Committee on Food Security tackle those issues in the immediate future?

Ethiopia said that its national policy focused on enhancing production and productivity as a way of ensuring food security.  The necessary international support was also required.  Were there any international support mechanisms available which could be extended to developing countries in order to ensure food security?  

YAYA OLANIRAN, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, presenting the report of the Committee on World Food Security, said that Cuba’s concern was a universal concern.  So much money was being spent to import food.  One way to stop price volatility on key foodstuffs was for countries to zero-in on what they knew how to grow best, grow it and eat it.  This may not be popular, but it could be a solution, particularly when looking at rural people.  They could also improve their cropping system.   The world was a global village, but every country had to see what was going to work for it.  The vast number of unemployed youth could be taken care of.  Most farmers in developing countries were over 50 years old.  Agriculture, science and innovation had to be made to work, to be a source of employment and a source of innovation.

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations Secretary-General on Implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (A/67/736–E/2013/7), requested by the Council in its resolution 2012/30, which includes specific recommendations aimed at transforming the Council into an issues-oriented, knowledge-based, stakeholder-friendly intergovernmental body; and addresses the need to bring greater coherence to the work of the Council system.

The Council has before it a letter dated 12 March 2013 from the Permanent Representatives of Germany and Tunisia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (A/67/796–E/2013/12).

The Council has before it the report of the United Nations Secretary-General on Mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system (A/68/79–E/2013/69), which analyses efforts made by the United Nations system in mainstreaming the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in its work; and points to a range of initiatives in that regard, while also identifying challenges and gaps.

Presentation of the Secretary-General’s Reports and Briefing by the Co-facilitators of the Process for the Further Review of the Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 61/16 on the Strengthening of the Economic and Social Council

NAVID HANIF, Director of the Office for the Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, presenting the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (document A767/736-E/2013/7), said that the report recommended that the Council should shift to a more issue-based approach and should focus on a main theme addressed through all relevant parts of the system with relevant mandates and specialization.  This approach would rally the whole system behind specific topical themes.  Concerning the Council’s relationship with other United Nations bodies, the report made a specific proposal to mainstream the Council with other relevant bodies, and also recommended a more structured and better defined interaction with the Security Council.  Also, it was felt that the current back-to-back segments of the Council diluted its focus and that the timing of some of the segments was not conducive to high level participation.  Therefore, the Council should consider shorter sessions focusing on specific issues throughout the calendar year.  Integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development was important, and the Council should become the main platform for monitoring the implementation of the post-2015 agenda, which was expected to be unified and universal.   

MARION BARTHELEMY, Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system, said that the Rio+20 outcome called for the mainstreaming of the economic, social and environmental dimension of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system.  The report included successes and challenges encountered so far, and tried to identify lessons learned.  Sustainable development had established itself as the framework for development efforts and the United Nations system had accumulated experience, which came out clearly in the report.  At the same time, achieving this remained a very complex endeavour.  Within individual United Nations system organizations, strategic plans were important tools.  There was an opportunity to pursue more integrated approaches as more agencies were updating their strategic plans.  A wealth of efforts was underway throughout the system.  At the country level, it was shown that Governments attached great importance to United Nations’ support in the area of development and environmental protection.  It was important for the United Nations Development Group to provide guidance.  Also important was that the United Nations system organizations worked closely together.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review could help boost attention to sustainable development.  Cooperation between the international financial institutions and the United Nations was also critical and there was progress in this area.  The report concluded overall that there were many institutional strengths and achievements in integrating the various dimensions of sustainable development but there were also challenges.  A few recommendations were included in the report, including that the Secretary-General develop a roadmap for accelerating progress in the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in the United Nations system. 

GEORGE TALBOT, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference from New York, said that, as speakers had already mentioned, sustainable development was now central in international agendas and its importance had been reaffirmed in the Rio+20 conference.  The Council was working on developing a number of processes which were ongoing and would give shape and form to the agenda.  Among those processes were the development of the post-2015 agenda, which was expected to start taking shape in the next session and beyond, and the ongoing work of the Working Group on Sustainable Development.  Every effort was being made to ensure that they had a coherent and inclusive agenda and framework in which the key elements could find their ample expression.  The new agenda needed to be supported by an effective, appropriate and coherent institutional machinery and framework, which were currently being put together.  Efforts on the Council’s side would ensure that they had a coherent process in place to allow the inclusive and effective participation of Member States, drawing on the strengths and complementarity of the institutional machinery.  Mr. Talbot said that seven initial rounds of consultation in open format had taken place in addition to bilateral and other consultations, with the aim of fostering an approach which would focus on establishing the broad elements and parameters of the process.  A better sequencing of activities spread out throughout the year both in New York and Geneva was another issue which was being worked on.  The collaboration between the Council and the General Assembly and the engagement of civil society and other actors were also issues taken into consideration.      

BENEDICTE FRANKINET, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference, said that in the philosophy of the proposal of the co-facilitators, based on a wide range of consultations, the whole idea was to unpack the very compact work of ECOSOC which in the view of the majority of Member States prevented it from playing a strategic role.  By organizing the work of ECOSOC in different segments, as suggested, the idea was to allow each segment to accomplish its work.  In order to do this, ECOSOC had to look deeply into its agenda and methods of work and mobilize the machinery around it.

MARTIN SAJDIK, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that the Secretary-General’s report recommended exploring more structured and well-defined interactions with the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission.  The Bureau met with the Chairs Group and discussed ways of deepening the relationship between the two bodies.  To go beyond ad-hoc arrangements and to ensure more predictability in the interaction of the two bodies, it was proposed that a paragraph be included on a joint programme of work.

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that he was grateful to the co-facilitators of resolution 61/16 of the General Assembly for the contact they had had with the Council in order to explore avenues which would ensure that the Council remained very relevant and that it had the capacity to fulfill its mandate.  Implementing the recommendations of the resolution was important because its aim was to revitalize the Council, strengthen its working methods, and render its work more dynamic.  The Council had an important and defining role to play in formulating the post-2015 development agenda.  In the Rio+20 conference, Heads of State had reaffirmed the Council’s key role in integrating the three balanced dimensions of sustainable development.  Comprehensive changes were required in order to create a Council with greater collective thinking and the capacity to formulate effective global policies within the United Nations system.  The Council must function more effectively and exploit its strengths, which included the ability to attract and integrate contributions from civil society.   Mr. Osorio asked everyone to maintain their level of work to ensure that the Council was successful and that it remained relevant and efficient in discharging its mandate.   

General Discussion

Russia said that it consistently supported the strengthening of ECOSOC.  It called for more effective use of ECOSOC’s potential within its mandate.  Russia believed that the segmented structure of the substantive session of ECOSOC in July met the objectives of the Council.  Russia felt that if the session was dismembered, the Council would not be able to fully carry out its Charter function of being the main coordinator of the United Nations system on development.

South Africa agreed on the need for a new and bold vision for the strengthening of ECOSOC, not only a cosmetic one.  It agreed with the proposal on the coherence of work on the High-Level Political Forum and ECOSOC to ensure complimentarity and avoid duplication.   Resources commensurate with the ECOSOC mandate needed to be looked at to enable the Council to deliver its mandate.  ECOSOC membership should also be looked into.  South Africa was committed to fully participate in the process of ensuring that ECOSOC remained relevant in a changing global landscape.

Switzerland said that it supported a strong and effective ECOSOC and the strengthening of dialogue with the Bretton Woods system, the definition of an annual theme and better coordination with the General Assembly to avoid duplication.  The global expertise in key themes such as trade, labour, humanitarian affairs and health were located in Geneva.  Disconnecting these would remove a significant part of the United Nations institutions from discussion on important subject.  The Operational Segment and the Humanitarian Segment had to continue to alternate between New York and Geneva. 

Cuba said that the reform process should strengthen the current structures, and to achieve that, there was a need to amend the geographical representation of regions in the Council’s machinery.  There was no need to set up a segment on coherence or consistency.  It was not clear what impact transforming all of the meetings would have.  The Council should continue to be strengthened in compliance with agreement achieved at the High-Level Political Forum.    

Venezuela said that Rio+20 recognized the importance of an inclusive, transparent and efficient system, which could be achieved through addressing the lack of political coherence and by incorporating in its work the social and environmental dimensions.  The Council must play a key role in revising the global development agenda.  The entire multilateral system must be revitalized and the Council should modify its agenda and working methods. 

New Zealand said that it strongly supported the idea to switch to segments held at different times throughout the year.  It also supported the proposal of venue alternation between New York and Geneva for the sake of inclusivity.  Issues relating to developing States and the least developed countries should be allocated appropriate time so they could be dealt with properly.  New Zealand encouraged further discussion.         

Mexico felt the Council was an entry point to dialogue and they had to take advantage of this to forge a global alliance for development.  It was a space to follow up the implementation of major conferences in the three dimensions of development.  They needed to rethink the way in which ECOSOC worked.  All of the proposals heard today would assist in achieving this.  They needed to take advantage of the ECOSOC’s development programme.

European Union said that a few days ago the modalities resolution on the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development had been adopted by the General Assembly, another step that allowed a closer and detailed view on ways to reinforce the Economic and Social Council.  An important challenge to ensure relevance and added value of ECOSOC was to improve the division of labour across United Nations bodies.  While respecting the different mandates, efforts could be made to identify comparative advantages and avoid duplication between mandates.

Spain echoed the statement made by the European Union and said that it supported the joint efforts to reform and strengthen the role of the Economic and Social Council.  With the aim of achieving that ECOSOC worked in a more efficient way, Spain said that one of the most important aspects in this regard was to simplify, rationalize and grant greater stability to meetings.   

Brazil said that the discussion with the co-facilitators in New York on the reform and strengthening of the Council was very useful.  The adoption of the resolution on the High-Level Political Forum gave them reason to be optimistic.  With the political commitment and the involvement of all in the process, difficulties had been overcome and they had achieved a new expression of the work of the United Nations.       

United States said that resolution 61/16 was a success and many of the proposed reforms made sense.  They should build on inclusive participation modalities and address the issues concerning the least developed countries and the small island developing States in separate categories.    

BENEDICTE FRANKINET, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference, said that the will to improve the relevance and methods of the work of the Economic and Social Council remained a top priority for the co-facilitators.  The main question which was raised during the interactive dialogue was how the co-facilitators were going to continue to facilitate the reform process.  Ms. Frankinet said that efforts were ongoing to enable the Council to effectively fulfill its functions.  

GEORGE TALBOT, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations in New York, speaking by video conference, underscored the importance of the relationship between ECOSOC and the General Assembly; they were two principal organs, complimentary and institutional partners.  The High-Level Political Forum arrangement provided an opportunity for a smoother and better collaboration between the two in the advancement of the sustainable development agenda.  There had been interesting suggestions and proposals submitted by Member States and these were being given a careful look. 

MARTIN SAJDIK, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, proposed that the Council take note of documents, the report of the Secretary-General on mainstreaming the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the United Nations system (A/69/79-E/2013/69), the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the main decisions and policy recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security (A/68/73-E/2013/59), and the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (A/67/736-E/2013/7). 

With regards to Agenda Item 8, it was proposed that the Council modify the title to reflect the most updated information.  It was proposed that the title include a reference to General Assembly resolution 61/16.  the modified title would read as implementation of General Assembly resolutions 50/227, 52/12 B, 57/270 B, 60/265 and 61/16.  The modified title would be included in the agenda of the Council in 2014. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/028E


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