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    15 January 2014

    Press Conference by Incoming Economic and Social Council President

    NEW YORK/VIENNA, 14 January (UN Information Service) - Describing the Sustainable Development Goals and post-2015 agenda "at the very heart" of the work of the United Nations, Martin Sajdik (Austria), speaking at a Headquarters press conference in his new role as President of the Economic and Social Council, said it was a time of great transition, including with regard to the Council's own structural reforms.

    The Economic and Social Council had a key role to play as the international community shifted its focus from the Millennium Development Goals to the post-2015 development agenda, he said, noting that the annual Ministerial Review in July would be an opportunity to evaluate results achieved thus far.  There was ample time for a final push to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he said, adding "we have less than 700 days to go, but there is still time to do something under the MDGs and to make the MDGs work".

    During the Ministerial Review, he noted, 10 Member States, including the United Kingdom, Qatar, Thailand, Gambia, Georgia, Sudan, Kuwait, Bolivia, Mexico and the State of Palestine, were scheduled give voluntary national presentations to showcase their work on the Goals.  Those would provide an opportunity to exchange experiences and share lessons learned.

    It also was a time of change for the Economic and Social Council, he said, following major reforms last year.  He cited as an example the planned convening of a new high-level political forum, under the Council's auspices.  It would focus on bridging the gap between the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals.

    The Council was also moving to a July-to-July cycle, with the newly elected Bureau members tapped to serve for 18 months during the transition.  The idea behind the new cycle was to make the Council more nimble, active as a year-round institution.  Future meetings would be held in New York, except for the humanitarian segment, which would alternate between New York and Geneva.  Ad hoc meetings would also be convened to allow the Council to play a coordination function in emergency situations.  He cited as an example Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

    In the coming months, he told correspondents, a youth forum would take place in coordination with Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Youth.  A development partnership forum was being planned in cooperation with the General Assembly President and a development cooperation forum would meet, with a focus on the effective use of official development assistance (ODA).

    Responding to a question on how to further the development agenda, he said that it is important to note that many countries had already made great progress, including in the areas of health and poverty eradication.  The work countries put in now will pay off in the future, he said, adding "the better you fulfil the MDGs, the easier the transition to the SDGs (sustainable development goals)".

    When asked if he intended to promote a stronger relationship between the Economic and Social Council and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, he said that such efforts were already under way, noting a growing interest in working together to integrate IMF and the World Bank in their common endeavours.  There was a common understanding that things should move in that direction, he added.

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    Relevant links:

    -    Economic and Social Council Opens 2014 Session by Outlining Structural Reforms Deemed 'Most Significant' in Over 20 Years

    -    Accelerating development agenda top priority for UN economic, social body, new president says