25 July 2008The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today wrapped up its annual substantive session, which this year focused on efforts to achieve sustainable development and saw the holding of the first ever Development Cooperation Forum. “It was truly a historic session, as it implemented the new functions of the Council in their entirety,” the Council’s President, Leo Mérorès of Haiti, said at the conclusion of the session. It was during this session that the first biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) – bringing together representatives from governments, the private sector, inter-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academia – convened to discuss technical aspects of development cooperation issues. The Forum was established in 2005 to help make development activities within and outside the UN more coherent and streamlined, particularly as more and more groups and entities become involved in the delivery of aid. “The Forum indeed constitutes one of the central pillars of the new, revitalized Economic and Social Council,” he said, adding that significant strides were made in positioning the Council as the principal forum for global dialogue and policy review on the effectiveness and coherence of international development cooperation. Another vital part of the session was the holding of the second Annual Ministerial Review, which featured presentations from four developing and four developed countries on lessons learned in development assistance. Mr. Mérorès noted that the developing countries had agreed on one common theme – that poverty eradication could only be achieved by pursuing development which is economically, socially and ecologically sustainable. At the same time, the developed countries acknowledged the gaps in their development cooperation strategies while highlighting successes with their development partners, he added. During its session, the Council also addressed a number of emerging challenges such as climate change, rising food and oil prices and biodiversity loss. The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs underscored the crux of the Council’s messages on these issues, stressing first and foremost that there are no piecemeal solutions and that these challenges should be addressed in a comprehensive manner. “There is also a clear need for both short-term and long-term measures,” Sha Zukang told the concluding session, particularly in the case of the food and fuel crises. He also emphasized collective action as central to the success of global efforts to find lasting and durable solutions to these challenges. “ECOSOC can serve as an effective forum for launching such action,” he pointed out. “We need to fully utilize the potential of the Council.” Among the other outcomes of the session, the two officials cited the message from this year’s humanitarian segment that further strengthening of the provision of humanitarian assistance is needed so that it becomes more timely, accountable, equitable and accessible. The Council also advanced its work in the area of peacebuilding and post-conflict development, most notably by again extending the mandate of the ECOSOC Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, in recognition of the role that the Council can play in supporting the country’s long-term development. ECOSOC, which serves as the central UN forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy recommendations, began its 2008 substantive session on 30 June.