Paul Magnette speaks during the ECOSOC at the UN’s General Assembly in New York City

date: 24 September 2012

During the Rio+20 Summit on sustainable development in June of this year, it was recognised that an inclusive, strengthened and efficient multilateral system was of great importance to face the urgent, global sustainable development challenges. Defining sustainable development goals, ensuring policy coherence, strengthening the social and environmental pillars and continuing to give special attention to the least developed countries (LDCs) are the most urgent challenges for the international community.

In “The Future We Want”, the outcome document adopted at Rio+20, the crucial role of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was emphasised. With its various subsidiary bodies (regional commissions, specialised agencies, functional commissions with ministers, experts and representatives of civil society), the ECOSOC is well placed to implement the international sustainable development agenda.

At today’s meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out the four biggest challenges: the employment crisis, meeting the financial commitments with regard to developing countries, food security, and green and inclusive growth.

Minister for Development Cooperation Paul Magnette was one of first speakers to take the floor after the panel discussions. In the high numbers of ministers present, he saw the proof of the importance of the ECOSOC’s reformation. Just as he did at the UNCTAD conference (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, April 2012), the Belgian Minister for Development stated that the absolute priority must be a strengthening of policy coherence. Coherence so that sustainable and equitable development strategies can be developed, with a view to the creation of decent jobs and social services for the most vulnerable populations. In this regard, the High Level Political Forum was established in Rio. This political forum is chaired by the British Prime Minister, David Cameron. According to Paul Magnette, this forum must provide a clear political direction which must then be approved by the ECOSOC in order to guarantee the balanced integration of the three sustainable development dimensions.

Finally, Minister Magnette pointed out that every country on the planet must be involved in this process, even the least developed countries. For this reason, Belgium is organising specific meetings with Turkey and Nepal later this week to discuss the needs, expectations and obligations of the LDCs.