Multiple actors and interested parties participated in the ECOSOC Partnership Forum to provide input on post-COVID priorities
By María Victoria Espada – The Economic and Social Counsel (ECOSOC) of the United Nations organized the 2022 ECOSOC Partnership Forum held in hybrid format on February 2nd, on the topic “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. This topic will guide the agenda for the year’s work at the ECOSOC and the next High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022 (HLPF 2022) in which the progress made in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be reviewed.
Global partners consultation
To prepare for the forum, a worldwide, online consultation was performed at the end of 2021 to gather ideas and input from academic and scientific institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), among others. As a result, SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 1 (ending poverty) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the goals) were identified as discussion priorities for the forum. Addressing climate change and preparing an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery after the pandemic were recognized as crucial for achieving the SDGs in 2030. The key conclusions and messages from the consultation were set out in the 2022 United Nations ECOSOC Partnership Forum Global Online Consultation Summary Report.
Rethinking policies with the participation of citizens
The online consultation emphasized the need to formulate policies “for everyone”, encompassing the whole of society and inclusively designed by citizens. Decentralised processes, a “bottom up” approach, and evaluations on impact and accountability were also highlighted as key elements of policy-making. In addition, knowledge exchange and the development of partnerships between different stakeholders and areas were cited as decisive aspects to achieve the SDGs.
Structural inequalities at every level
The key messages of the online consultation were presented during the 2022 Partnership Forum sessions. NGOs, the academia and the private sector joined their voices with those of representatives of the United Nations system, other international organisations, and local and national governmental delegates. They all shared concerns about growing multidimensional inequalities between countries, communities, and people, exacerbated by the effects of pandemic.
Likewise, inequality in access to vaccines and medical supplies, the increase in violence against women and children, the devastating effects of the climate crises, the digital gap, and the worrisome debt of less developed countries were other concerns shared during the forum.
In addition, the loss of civic space and systematic violations of human rights were mentioned by the participants as other alarming consequences of the pandemic.
Enormous efforts will need to be made to achieve a sustainable recovery
Strategies to mitigate the effects of the pandemic include stressing the need to support the national production of vaccines and tests, guaranteeing universal provision of and access to health insurance, investing in renewable energy sources and good quality sustainable infrastructures, and bridging the digital divide.
Ensuring that the recovery is inclusive and sustainable will call for the implementation of coherent development policies and the strengthening of public service provision, as well as the forging of innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors and civil society.
Inventing new forms of collaboration so that no one is left behind
The participants also pointed out the importance of promoting inclusive multilateralism, investing in sound, participatory institutions, and seeking new forms of cooperation in development, especially with regards financial support for less developed countries. Similarly, all the panellists emphasized the importance of putting the 2030 Agenda at the heart of pandemic recovery strategies, investing in SDGs and strengthening the principle of “leaving no one behind”.
Precisely because SDG 4 was identified in the global online consultation as a priority area, the NGO Major Group, of which Dianova International is a global organising partner, co-organized a forum session on “Education for all as a key step of the recovery. As mentioned by the panellists, in addition to leaving 94 per cent of the world’s student population without schools and other learning spaces, the COVID-19 pandemic led to the interruption of the provision of essential services to children, reduced access to healthy food, an increased risk of violence towards women and girls and a widening of the digital divide. As was explained in the session, these problems are all the more pressing in the case of vulnerable populations, such as indigenous communities and refugees.
Strengthening education, especially for vulnerable populations
Among the actions to remedy this situation, panellists advocated the need to recognize education as a fundamental right and an essential long term investment. Similarly, they advocated more respect for diversity and the inclusion of traditional indigenous knowledge in educational curricula, as well as offering specific support for marginalised populations within an integrated approach combining education and child protection. Investment in lifelong learning was also identified as key to reversing some of the consequences of the pandemic. Finally, panellists urged the countries’ governments to provide free education for all.
Link to recordings of the Forum sessions: ECOSOC Partnership Forum 2022 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (un.org)