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Annual Meeting of Government and Business Leaders Opens with Focus on Driving Innovation through Science, Technology and Culture for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development
28 June 2013

GENEVA:  The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which serves as the central United Nations forum for discussing international economic and social issues, will hold its 2013 substantive session at the Palais des Nations in Geneva from 1 to 26 July.  Government ministers, private sector leaders and heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes will meet from 1 to 4 July for the High-level Segment.

Given the focus of this year’s high-level meeting on science, technology and innovation, participants include over 500 delegates, heads of non-governmental and corporate groups and international financial institutions.  Innovations in science, technology and culture—in public and private sectors—will be essential tools for overcoming twenty-first century challenges, such as extreme poverty, inequality and environmental degradation, according to the Secretary-General’s report on “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals” for the 2013 Annual Ministerial Review.

“Innovation is at the core of the three pillars of sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said Néstor Osorio, President of ECOSOC.  “Our societies require a change in the way we think about future development.  Education, science, technology and innovation were identified as important elements of viable long-term solutions to sustainable development challenges.  ECOSOC will play a key role in promoting sustainable development through a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions.”

Ambassador Osorio (Colombia) will open the High-level Segment with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Vuk Jeremić, President of the General Assembly, and Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation.  Keynote addresses will be given by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director-General, CERN, David Sengeh, Founder of Innovate Salone; and Daphne Koller, Co-founder of Massive Open Online Courses.  The Directors-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will also deliver keynote addresses.  Juan Manuel Santos Calderon, President of Colombia, will deliver a special keynote address on 3 July.

The Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), part of the High-level Segment, will focus on international goals and commitments as well as discussions on the Council’s role in shaping the post-2015 development agenda.  In a report released in preparation for the meeting, Mr. Ban said that less than three years before the deadline for the achievement of the MDGs, eradicating poverty and pursuing sustainable development remained formidable challenges.  “As we take stock of progress, learn from the experience of the past dozen years, and design a post-2015 development agenda, it is becoming clear that science, technology, innovation and culture hold huge potential as tools and enablers to realize countries’ goals,” Mr. Ban wrote in the report.

The High-Level Segment will also feature a policy dialogue between the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund on current developments in the world economy, with keynote speakers including Leonel Fernández, former President of the Dominican Republic, and Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate and Columbia University Professor [TBC].

Part of the events being organized include:
§ A panel discussion: “International cooperation in the development, transfer and diffusion of technologies in Africa and least developed countries” (3 July at 11 a.m.)
§ A panel discussion: “Universal health coverage” (3 July at 3 p.m.)
§ A thematic debate: “The contribution of ECOSOC to the elaboration of the Post-2015 Development Agenda” (4 July at 10 a.m.)

Three key reports will be launched during the High-Level Segment.
· On 1 July, Secretary-General Ban will launch the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, which contains new data on major successes and existing challenges in achieving the MDGs by 2015, the target year.
· The Global Innovation Index 2013 Edition will be launched 1 July.
· This year’s Report of the Committee for Development Policy will be launched on 2 July by José Antonio Ocampo (via video link). 
· The World Economic and Social Survey 2013: Sustainable Development Challenges will be launched on 2 July. The survey aims to contribute to the deliberations on sustainable development with a focus on three important cross-sectoral issues: sustainable cities, food security and energy transformation.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, will introduce the Report of the Secretary-General on the Annual Ministerial Review and the Report of the Secretary-General on the Thematic discussion.

At the High-Level Segment, five countries—France, Nigeria, Peru, Thailand and Viet Nam—will give national voluntary presentations on their progress in implementing the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, and the role of science, technology and innovation, as well as culture, as part of this process.

In addition to ministers and senior officials from Member States, others attending the talks will include Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Amina Mohammed, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning; Zhu Min, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund; Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; Mahmoud Mohieldin, the World Bank President’s Special Envoy; Pascal Lamy, Director General, World Trade Organization; and Jan Vandemoortele, Independent Researcher, former Director of UNDP Poverty Group and co-architect of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Coordination Segment, which will take place from 5 to 9 July, will focus on two main substantive areas: follow-up to the 2012 Ministerial Declaration on promoting productive capacity, employment and decent work to eradicate poverty in the context of inclusive, sustainable and equitable economic growth at all levels for achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development.  During this segment, a dialogue will be held with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions on the theme of “regional perspectives on the post-2015 development agenda.”  Also two panels will be held on partnerships for productive capacity and decent work and on using human rights instruments and ILO standards and recommendations to achieve decent work for all. 

The Operational Activities Segment is where ECOSOC exercises oversight of the funds and programmes which are under the authority of the Council. This segment will be held from 10 to 12 July and will focus on reviewing progress on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/266 on the United Nations system operational activities for development as well as the role of the United Nations development system in a changing development cooperation landscape.  It will include thematic discussions on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/266 on the United Nations system operational activities for development: perspectives from United Nations programme countries; opportunities and challenges for the United Nations development system: expectations of Member States; and accountability for system-wide results and impact.  The Council will also have dialogues with the Executive Heads and the Chairs of the Executive Boards of the Funds and Programmes.

The Humanitarian Segment, to be held from 15 to 17 July, will look at the future of humanitarian affairs towards greater inclusiveness, coordination, interoperability and effectiveness.  It will include two main high-level panel discussions: on reducing vulnerability, improving capacities and managing risks: an approach for humanitarian and development actors to work together; and on promoting humanitarian innovation for improved response.

During the General Segment, which will run from 18 to 25 July, ECOSOC will review reports of its subsidiary bodies and of other United Nations entities working in the economic and social fields.  The subsidiary bodies include the Council’s functional commissions, regional commissions, and expert and ad hoc bodies. The segment will also consider the report of ECOSOC’s NGO Committee.  A number of system-wide thematic issues will be reviewed, among them, the mainstreaming of a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, the Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the report of the United Nations inter-agency task force on tobacco control. The Council will also consider a number of country and group issues, including the Secretary-General’s reports on Haiti and South Sudan as well as the economic and social situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the occupied Syrian Golan and support to colonial countries and peoples.  A series of panel discussions and briefings will be organized.

ECOSOC will conclude its 2013 substantive session on Friday, 26 July.

Documentation for the session, including the proposed programme of work and the annotated provisional agenda, can be found at

About the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

ECOSOC is the principal United Nations body for coordinating and reviewing economic and social policies, providing advice and fostering dialogue on development issues.  The Annual Ministerial Review, which was mandated at the 2005 World Summit, assesses the progress made in the implementation of the MDGs and the other goals and targets agreed at the major UN conferences and summits over the past 15 years, which constitute the United Nations Development Agenda. Each year, the AMR focuses on a specific aspect of that Agenda.

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New York: Wynne Boelt, UN Department of Public Information, Tel. +1 (212) 963 8264;

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