Dialogues at the Economic
and Social Council
© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1152/Kate Holt
Geneva, July 2011
Table of contents
A. The Education for All Agenda
Keynote Addresses: Highlights
AMR discussions—“Education for All Agenda”
1 Accelerating Education for All (EFA): Mobilizing resources and partnerships
2 Education, Human Rights and Conflict
3 Education for sustainable development
4 Education challenges in Africa and least developed countries (LDCs)
5 Education for the future: Changing needs—Thematic roundtable
1 Innovation Fair
2 Ministerial Round Table Breakfasts
B. The World Economy and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
1 Accelerating High-level policy dialogue with the international financial and trade
institutions on current developments in the world economy
2 Promoting sustained, inclusive and equitable growth for accelerating poverty eradication
and achieving the MDGs
3 Building on Istanbul: financial support for the development efforts of LDCs,
including through South-South and triangular cooperation
C. Empowering the United Nations system to act on the United Nations
1 Leadership, coordination and accountability: evaluating the United Nations system’s work
on gender equality and women’s empowerment
2 Dialogue with Executive Heads of United Nations funds and programmes:
“Looking to the future of operational activities for development of funds and programmes:
strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats”
D. ECOSOC’s consideration of country situations: The Horn of Africa,
South Sudan and Haiti
1 The humanitarian situation in the Horn of Africa
2 Promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Sudan and South Sudan
3 The long-term programme of support to Haiti
E. Press and communications
1 UN News Centre articles
2 UN press releases and meetings coverage
3 Video coverage
Ministerial declaration of the high-level segment—substantive session
of 2011 of the Economic and Social Council
At its 2011 Annual Session, ECOSOC adopted a much-needed Ministerial Declaration, one
which called for the “effective implementation of the Education for All Agenda” and stressed
the “fundamental role education plays in creating an inclusive society, reducing poverty and
achieving sustainable development”.
Despite recent progress, which led to millions of out-of-school children enrolling in class
for the first time, a staggering 67 million still remain unenrolled, reports UNESCO. Here, as
elsewhere, the gender gap persists, with girls accounting for 53 per cent of the total out-
of-school figure. Worse still, deteriorating economic conditions in rich and poor countries
alike threaten to undermine the positive work of recent years.
Faced with debt and deficits, governments have curtailed social spending at home, as
well as the level of development assistance available to finance education and other vital
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
At the same time, rising food and energy prices mean less money left over for investing in
things like education, where payoffs are rarely immediate but extend well into the future.
Climate change also threatens progress in achieving the Education for All goals. Many of
the most underserved education areas are, after all, the same places most likely to be hit
most severely by the extreme effects of climate change. One such consequence—a rise in
resource-inspired conflict—is particularly ominous given that some 40 per cent of out-of-
school children already live in war-torn states.
ECOSOC must play a crucial role in addressing these challenges. It must continue to build
on its special strength as an esteemed global forum—a place where governments, civil
society, academia and the business community can meet to discuss and resolve global
problems. This past summer in Geneva was one such occasion.
UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré
By Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations
Thus, for all that was accomplished there, I extend my sincere thanks to the many who
contributed. Let us continue to work together to advance the United Nations Development
Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Each year the Economic and Social Council’s Annual Substantive Session offers policymakers
many fine opportunities. It provides a natural setting at which to explore the numerous
development and humanitarian challenges confronting us. It also allows for a major review
of United Nations’ operations—a chance to scale-up what works, as well as chart a new
course where needed.
This time around in Geneva, the session brought together a veritable smorgasbord of key
players: ministers of education, foreign affairs, development cooperation and planning,
along with heads of various UN entities, NGOs, top corporations, foundations and other
major development stakeholders.
I believe it is fair to say that we can report very positive results. During the High-Level
Segment—which attracted distinguished and high-level personalities, such as former
UK Prime Minister Brown—the Council set out, for instance, precisely why education is
so vital to progress on health, poverty and the other millennium development goals.
“National Voluntary Presentations”, a recent ECOSOC innovation, allowed twelve countries
to share their development experiences in enviable depth. The Council’s Annual Ministerial
Declaration rounded off the segment with important policy advice to the entire UN system—
together with a comprehensive follow-up scheduled for next year’s Coordination Segment.
This year’s Coordination Segment, meanwhile, focused on ways to speed-up the
effectiveness of UN WOMEN, the new UN organization charged with promoting gender
equality and women’s empowerment. On this, more action on “cross-cutting issues and
defined new modalities for gender mainstreaming” was urged by all. Following up further
on the powerful spirit of review so closely associated with ECOSOC, the Council also “gave
clear directions on the focus of the comprehensive policy review of the United Nations
system operational activities” at its Operational Activities Segment (to be carried out,
likewise, by the General Assembly in 2012).
Improving our organizational speed and flexibility, especially when assisting the world’s
most vulnerable nations, was another major topic of discussion. Also decided was the
UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré
By H.E. Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the Economic and Social Council, United Nations
agenda for the 2015 Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum, which
will now include a review of the implementation of the “Istanbul Programme of Action” in the
post-2015 development landscape.
On the humanitarian front, the gathering was timely reminded that crises demand not only
strong financial partnerships to keep resources flowing, but also fast and nimble response
capabilities. Other topics on the agenda included the ongoing food crisis in the Horn of Africa,
the worsening conflict in Somalia, nation-building in South Sudan and reconstruction in Haiti
(discussion of which was buttressed by the lengthy recommendations of the UN’s Ad Hoc
Advisory Group on Haiti report).
Also noteworthy was the creation of a new United Nations Committee of Experts on Global
Geospatial Information Management, which will bring together (for the first time globally)
experts from all Member States to compile and disseminate best practices on geospatial
Good developments, all of them. But now what is next? How will this 2011 Substantive Session
be perceived in years to come?
Much will surely depend on the soundness of the many resolutions and policy
recommendations issued. Yet still more will depend, I firmly believe, on the world’s collective
commitment—to stay on track, to dodge the many new hurdles which will invariably come
our way, and, out of these, to emerge stronger than ever.
If this publication can play a small role towards this end, it will have more than served its
H.E. Mr. LaZarouS kapambwe
Economic and Social Council, United Nations
The Education for All Agenda A
UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré