The United Nations Economic and Social Council

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six main organs of the United Nations and was established in 1946 based on Article 7 of the UN Charter. With its seat in New York City, the ECOSOC consists of 54 Member States since 1971 and is concerned with different tasks of the economic and social areas. Moreover, the ECOSOC is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social, environmental issues and for implementation of the internationally agreed development goals. The ECOSOC has its legitimacy and its competences based on Article 61-72 of the UN Charter and engages the realization of research on international affairs regarding to the areas of economy, welfare, culture, education and health. It makes reports of those tasks and can craft recommendations to increase the respect of human rights and their implementation. The ECOSOC can also convoke international conferences. 

The council is comprised of 14 African states, 11 Asian states, 6 Eastern European states, 10 Latin American and Caribbean states and a group of 13 states which represent the Western European and other states. These Member States are selected in elections to ensure rotation of one third of the council every year. The ECOSOC can also invite a Member State of the UN to its sessions and declare it as an observer, if this Member State has a special interest in a concerned topic of the session. Therefore, the ECOSOC deals with a vide verity of stakeholders, policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, major groups, business sector representatives and over 3.200 registered Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A large variety of special commissions are subsidiary bodies of the ECOSOC. The functional commissions are separated by their respective topic, while there are also commissions by region, and some commissions are composed of governmental experts. The most important responsibilities, which the ECOSOC is concerned with, are promoting sustainable development, advancing policy integration, providing coordination while building partnerships, guiding operational activities and raising awareness on emerging issues.  


Finding Ways towards a Sustainable and Healthy Food Production

The way food is produced and distributed has strong implications for the economies of states and affects humans significantly regarding their costs of living, health, and work. Therefore, this topic intersects with several United Nation´s Sustainable Development Goals.  As activities related to food production contribute up to 30% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, there is great potential in reducing them in total. Also, the growing global wealth leads to an increase in demand for meat and dairy products, further contributing to the climate crisis. The share of agriculture is estimated at 3.5%, a number that must be seen critically, as the number of people with direct economic dependency to food production varies with the degree of development. While highly developed economies feature highly industrialized and centralized production with relatively low workforce related to output, emerging economies have a large share of their population working in food production. Over 60% of the global population depends on agriculture for survival, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). The world is producing enough food in terms of calories, however not in terms of enabling a balanced diet, leading to health problems like obesity and a shortage of necessary nutrients with unhealthy diets leading to health costs. The UN´s report State Food Security and nutrition in the World 2020 does argue that switching food systems towards sustainability would reduce the costs of healthy diets. The topic offers a variety of issues to be discussed, such as a decentralized production to shorten supply chains and reduce packaging or thinking of ways to set incentives for a transformation of production towards plant-based proteins. 

Sustaining Economic Opportunities in Emerging Economies

Emerging economies are an important driver for the development of greater regions. They not only provide economic opportunities for them but also for neighbouring countries and thus provide perspectives for citizens in their domestic market and beyond. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown their vulnerability towards external shocks. Furthermore, globalization enables high educated youth to seek better opportunities in higher developed countries, reducing potential for innovation due to brain drain. Emerging economies are also threatened by climate change, especially in Africa where desertification and drought impact economic development. In the light of the climate crisis, it is important to consider on which resources industries are build upon and how electricity is produced. If future expected growth is based on fossil fuels like it was in today’s developed economies, the target of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord to mitigate global warming below 2% is unreachable and will impact economic opportunities globally. Therefore, it is of interest to the global community to support emerging economies in growing sustainably and partner up to create innovative solutions. Strengthening local and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is an example for an approach to build a sustainable foundation locally. Sustainable growth in emerging economies will require big leaps in technological development and can only be achieved by global cooperation.


Julian Beck

Dana Kordovanikova

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