Check against delivery
Excellencies, Collegaues, Distinguished Delegates,
Let me take you back to a cold day in London 73 years ago. On 23 January 1946 the Economic and Social Council met under its first president, Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar from India.
It was this Council’s first meeting after its creation by the Charter of the United Nations in 1945.
The 18 members who met in London had a powerful mandate. ECOSOC should promote better living for all mankind – by fostering international cooperation on economic, social, and cultural issues.
It should also promote universal respect and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. For all. Without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
Fast forward to New York, where we meet today. ECOSOC’s mandate remains as relevant and compelling as ever.
Today, we also have the overarching 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It guides our efforts to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all.
The 2030 Agenda is our shared roadmap to transform the world.
The 17 sustainable development goals are interconnected and universal. ECOSOC offers a multitude of opportunities to assist the global community in reaching our common goals.
ECOSOC and its intergovernmental structures make up a whole ecosystem. Each component has a specific function.
I would like thank my predecessor for her great work and dedication. Ambassador Rhonda King has already made great efforts to strengthen and improve ECOSOC. It is my ambition as president, to make ECOSOC work better – as an ecosystem.
I will work to ensure that we collectively deliver on our goals. We must use the High-Level Political Forum in the best manner possible to follow-up and review the Agenda 2030.
We need the whole UN family to become better aligned – for better results. I will continue the interaction with the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Peace Building Commission.
The United Nations must strive to make a difference in our countries, under the leadership of our governments.
The UN must be of value to people. To our family. To our neighbours. To our friends. It is important to hear the voices of civil society.
UN reform must and will make the UN deliver results better, more coherent and more effective.
As the Secretary-General has stated, comprehensive reform requires bold changes in the way the UN is funded. The UN development system needs more flexible and predictable funding. Member states must comply with the funding compact.
The UN development system, on their part, must deliver on their commitments. We expect better results, greater transparency and accountability, and a more efficiency.
Unless we see a reformed UN, our credibility is at stake. The true test of our success will be whether persons, communities and countries actually experience improvement in their lives and societies.
The rights of women and gender equality must remain a reform priority and a cross-cutting issue. ECOSOC must place gender equality at the heart of our work.
Next year, we celebrate 25 years of championing women’s rights since we adopted the Beijing Platform for Action. It is a vision of a more prosperous, peaceful and fair world, that is better for women and men, girls and boys.
As Secretary-General Guterres pointed out in the 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development Report; we now see that
“Trust in the multilateral system itself is eroding, in part because we are not delivering inclusive and sustainable growth for all.”
We need truly collective action to address the global challenges of today. Rather than retreating from multilateralism, the international community should acknowledge what is at stake. We must accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the global partnership for sustainable development that it sets out.
Here, ECOSOC has a key role to play. I will make financing for development a priority of my presidency.
Transparent and well-functioning institutions, good governance and anti-corruption measures are key policy areas. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda and its follow-up should form the basis of these discussions – and our action.
Let me point to some of the issues ECOSOC should address:
- Women’s participation is a prerequisite and a key factor for economic growth.
- Increased domestic resource mobilisation is crucial to achieving the sustainable development goals.
- Illicit financial flows must be stopped.
- We need a broad and forceful international coalition to fight corruption.
- We see growing debt distress. We need more «hard talk» on responsible borrowing and lending.
- Fair and predictable taxation regimes are not only good for government revenue. They are also good for business.
- We must identify and implement solutions with transformative effects on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
I encourage you to share your ideas on how ECOSOC can engage all stakeholders, and help mobilise the needed financing and implement sustainable development.
Before I wrap up, let me briefly summarise my priorities as president of ECOSOC.
Firstly, I will continue the legacy of my predecessor, Ambassador Rhonda King. We must make the whole ecosystem of ECOSOC as relevant and efficient as possible.
Secondly, I will reach out to the wider UN family. We must ensure that ECOSOC plays its part in the implementation of UN reform, so that it makes a real difference in the lives of people.
Thirdly, I will strive to advance the financing for development agenda throughout the work of the whole ecosystem.
My aim is to hold an inclusive, fact-based and action-oriented High Level Political Forum in 2020. There is an urgent need to agree on the content and form of this session. I will consult with Member States to ensure that we make a timely decision on this matter.
To conclude; It is a privilege and an honour for me personally – and for Norway – to serve as the president of ECOSOC. I look very much forward to work with the new bureau in the year to come.
Norway is a consistent and committed partner to the UN. We will work hard to enable ECOSOC to do its very best for our common future. I will rely on all of you so we together can live up to the expectations of the people we serve.
The 18 men that met in London on that bleak winter day in 1946 formally constituted the Economic and Social Council. Their hope was that their joint efforts could eliminate the causes of conflicts.
Let us honour that powerful mandate. Let us make the most of the ECOSOC ecosystem, and promote common action for a sustainable world.