ECOSOC = United Nations Economic and Social Council

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. Its main function is to promote international economic and social cooperation and development. ECOSOC plays a crucial role in coordinating and monitoring the work of various specialized agencies, programs, and funds within the UN system.


1. Policy Coordination:

ECOSOC serves as a platform for member states to discuss and coordinate their economic and social policies. It facilitates dialogue, encourages cooperation, and promotes consensus on global issues related to sustainable development, poverty eradication, and social progress.

2. Development Planning:

ECOSOC supports the formulation and implementation of development strategies and policies. It conducts reviews and provides guidance on national and regional development plans and programs.

3. Monitoring and Reporting:

ECOSOC monitors the progress made by member states in achieving internationally agreed development goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It assesses the impact of economic and social policies and provides recommendations for improvement.

4. Coordination of UN Agencies:

ECOSOC coordinates the work of various UN specialized agencies, programs, and funds involved in economic and social development. It ensures coherence, avoids duplication, and promotes collaboration among these entities.

5. Capacity Building:

ECOSOC provides a platform for capacity-building initiatives, knowledge sharing, and best practice exchange among member states. It supports efforts to enhance the institutional and human capacities of developing countries.


ECOSOC consists of 54 member states elected by the United Nations General Assembly for three-year terms. The membership is distributed based on geographical representation, with seats allocated to different regions of the world. The council holds regular sessions throughout the year, including a high-level segment that brings together heads of state and government to address key global challenges. ECOSOC also has subsidiary bodies, such as functional commissions and expert committees, which focus on specific thematic areas.

Type of Activity:

ECOSOC engages in a wide range of activities to fulfill its mandate. These include:

1. Annual Ministerial Reviews:

Member states present reports on their progress towards achieving the SDGs and engage in high-level discussions on priority areas for action.

2. High-Level Political Forum:

ECOSOC convenes the annual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which provides a platform for reviewing progress, sharing experiences, and mobilizing political will to advance sustainable development.

3. Expert Panels and Dialogues:

ECOSOC organizes expert panels, dialogues, and thematic discussions on various economic and social issues, bringing together policymakers, experts, and stakeholders to exchange ideas and propose solutions.

4. Partnerships and Engagement:

ECOSOC facilitates partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector to promote sustainable development. It encourages engagement with non-state actors and stakeholders to foster inclusive and participatory decision-making.

5. Capacity Development:

ECOSOC supports capacity-building activities, including training workshops, technical assistance programs, and knowledge sharing platforms, to enhance the capabilities of member states in implementing development strategies.

ECOSOC plays a vital role in promoting international economic and social cooperation, coordinating the work of UN agencies, and advancing sustainable development. Through its functions, structure, and diverse activities, ECOSOC aims to foster global collaboration and solidarity to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges and achieve inclusive and sustainable development for all.

1. Functions and Responsibilities:

a. Policy Development: ECOSOC is responsible for formulating policies and recommendations on economic, social, and environmental issues. It identifies emerging challenges and trends, conducts research, and generates reports to guide member states in their decision-making processes.

b. International Cooperation: ECOSOC promotes international cooperation and dialogue among member states on economic and social issues. It facilitates the exchange of best practices, experiences, and lessons learned to support sustainable development efforts globally.

c. Global Advocacy: ECOSOC serves as a platform for raising awareness and advocating for issues related to economic and social development. It amplifies the voices of marginalized and vulnerable populations, ensuring that their perspectives are taken into account in policy discussions.

d. Financing for Development: ECOSOC plays a key role in mobilizing resources for development financing. It examines innovative financing mechanisms and promotes dialogue between developed and developing countries to address financial gaps and ensure adequate resources for sustainable development.

e. Follow-up and Review: ECOSOC conducts reviews and assessments of the implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the SDGs. It monitors progress, identifies challenges, and provides recommendations to accelerate the achievement of these goals.

2. Structure and Membership:

a. Membership: ECOSOC consists of 54 member states elected by the United Nations General Assembly. The distribution of seats is based on equitable geographical representation, ensuring fair representation from different regions.

b. Bureau: ECOSOC is led by a President, elected annually from among its member states. The President is supported by four Vice Presidents and various subsidiary bodies.

c. Subsidiary Bodies: ECOSOC has a range of subsidiary bodies, including functional commissions, expert committees, and regional commissions. These bodies focus on specific thematic areas such as social development, population, statistics, and sustainable development.

d. Coordination Mechanisms: ECOSOC works closely with other UN entities, including specialized agencies, programs, and funds. It coordinates their activities, promotes collaboration, and provides policy guidance to ensure coherence and effectiveness in addressing global challenges.

3. Engaging Non-State Actors:

a. Civil Society Participation: ECOSOC recognizes the importance of engaging civil society organizations (CSOs) in its work. It has a consultative status with over 5,000 CSOs, allowing them to participate in ECOSOC meetings, contribute expertise, and present reports and recommendations.

b. Private Sector Engagement: ECOSOC also emphasizes the involvement of the private sector in sustainable development efforts. It promotes public-private partnerships, encourages responsible business practices, and facilitates dialogue between governments and the private sector to leverage resources and expertise.

4. Annual High-Level Segment:

a. Each year, ECOSOC holds a high-level segment, which brings together heads of state, government ministers, and other high-level officials to discuss key economic and social development issues.

b. The high-level segment provides an opportunity for member states to share experiences, highlight challenges, and propose solutions. It fosters political dialogue and consensus-building on critical development priorities.

5. Contributions to the UN System:

a. ECOSOC plays a crucial role in coordinating the work of the UN system. It collaborates with other UN entities to ensure policy coherence, avoid duplication, and enhance effectiveness in achieving sustainable development goals.

b. ECOSOC serves as a platform for sharing best practices, lessons learned, and innovative approaches among UN agencies, facilitating knowledge exchange and promoting synergies.

ECOSOC’s work is dynamic and multidimensional, addressing a wide range of economic, social, and development issues. By fostering collaboration, providing policy guidance, and promoting dialogue among member states and stakeholders, ECOSOC contributes to advancing sustainable development and improving the lives of people worldwide.

1. ECOSOC’s Role in Sustainable Development:

a. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): ECOSOC plays a critical role in advancing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. It provides a platform for member states to review progress, exchange experiences, and identify challenges in achieving the SDGs.

b. High-Level Political Forum (HLPF): The HLPF, convened by ECOSOC, is the central platform for monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the SDGs. It brings together governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to share best practices and accelerate progress towards sustainable development.

2. ECOSOC and Financing for Development:

a. Financing for Development Forum: ECOSOC hosts an annual Forum on Financing for Development to promote dialogue and cooperation on financing sustainable development. The forum addresses key issues such as mobilizing domestic and international resources, debt sustainability, and improving the effectiveness of development assistance.

b. Development Cooperation Forum (DCF): The DCF, established by ECOSOC, focuses on promoting effective development cooperation and fostering partnerships for sustainable development. It provides a platform for dialogue among governments, civil society, and the private sector to enhance the quality and impact of development cooperation.

3. ECOSOC and Humanitarian Affairs:

a. Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance: ECOSOC works closely with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coordinate humanitarian responses to crises and emergencies. It ensures a coordinated and effective international response to address the needs of affected populations.

b. Humanitarian Affairs Segment: ECOSOC’s annual Humanitarian Affairs Segment brings together humanitarian actors to discuss emerging challenges and share best practices in humanitarian response and assistance.

4. ECOSOC and Policy Dialogue:

a. Functional Commissions: ECOSOC has several functional commissions that focus on specific areas of economic and social development. These commissions, such as the Commission on Social Development and the Commission on the Status of Women, provide a platform for policymakers, experts, and stakeholders to engage in policy dialogue, share knowledge, and formulate recommendations.

b. Expert Committees: ECOSOC’s expert committees, such as the Committee for Development Policy and the Statistical Commission, provide expertise and guidance on specialized topics related to economic and social development. They contribute to evidence-based policy formulation and promote data-driven decision-making.

5. ECOSOC and Follow-up Mechanisms:

a. Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs): ECOSOC oversees the Voluntary National Review process, through which member states present their progress in implementing the SDGs. VNRs provide a platform for sharing experiences, lessons learned, and best practices, fostering mutual learning and peer support among countries.

b. Global Sustainable Development Report: ECOSOC commissions the Global Sustainable Development Report, a comprehensive assessment of the state of sustainable development. The report provides evidence-based analysis and recommendations to inform policy discussions and decision-making.

ECOSOC’s work is characterized by its inclusive and participatory nature, fostering partnerships and engaging diverse stakeholders to address global challenges. It plays a crucial role in shaping international policies, promoting sustainable development, and advancing the well-being of people worldwide.

1. ECOSOC and Gender Equality:

a. Gender Mainstreaming: ECOSOC promotes gender mainstreaming across all its work areas. It encourages member states to integrate a gender perspective into their policies, programs, and decision-making processes to advance gender equality and empower women and girls.

b. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW): ECOSOC’s CSW is a functional commission dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It addresses critical issues, conducts policy reviews, and makes recommendations to accelerate progress in achieving gender equality and women’s rights.

2. ECOSOC and Youth Engagement:

a. Youth Forum: ECOSOC organizes an annual Youth Forum, providing a platform for young people to engage in discussions on global economic, social, and environmental challenges. The forum enables youth to share their perspectives, ideas, and innovative solutions for sustainable development.

b. Youth Delegate Program: ECOSOC supports the participation of youth delegates from member states in its meetings and events. This program ensures that young people have a voice in shaping policies and decisions on economic and social development.

3. ECOSOC and Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI):

a. Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD): ECOSOC’s CSTD provides guidance on science, technology, and innovation policies and their role in promoting sustainable development. It advises member states on harnessing the potential of STI for economic growth, social progress, and environmental sustainability.

b. Technology Facilitation Mechanism: ECOSOC oversees the Technology Facilitation Mechanism, which promotes the use of technology to achieve the SDGs. It facilitates collaborations, knowledge sharing, and capacity building to enhance access to and transfer of technology for sustainable development.

4. ECOSOC and Partnerships:

a. Multi-stakeholder Engagement: ECOSOC recognizes the importance of engaging a wide range of stakeholders, including civil society organizations, private sector entities, academia, and foundations. It promotes inclusive partnerships to leverage expertise, resources, and innovation in advancing sustainable development.

b. United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UNNGO): ECOSOC’s UNNGO provides support and facilitates the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in ECOSOC’s work. It promotes dialogue, collaboration, and knowledge exchange between NGOs and member states.

5. ECOSOC and Regional Commissions:

a. Regional Commissions: ECOSOC has five regional commissions (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP, and ESCWA), which focus on economic and social development issues specific to their respective regions. These commissions conduct research, promote regional cooperation, and provide policy recommendations tailored to the needs and priorities of their regions.

ECOSOC’s work spans a broad range of areas, reflecting the interconnectedness of economic, social, and environmental issues. Through its various mechanisms, ECOSOC strives to address global challenges, promote sustainable development, and foster international cooperation for the betterment of humanity.

1. ECOSOC and Climate Change:

a. Climate Action: ECOSOC recognizes the urgent need to address climate change as a critical development challenge. It promotes international cooperation, policy dialogue, and knowledge sharing to support climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

b. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF): The HLPF, convened by ECOSOC, includes a specific focus on sustainable development and climate action. It provides a platform for reviewing progress, sharing experiences, and mobilizing action to address climate change and its impacts.

2. ECOSOC and Human Rights:

a. Human Rights Council (HRC): ECOSOC has a close relationship with the HRC, which is the principal UN body responsible for promoting and protecting human rights. ECOSOC can make recommendations to the General Assembly on the election of HRC members, ensuring a strong link between economic, social, and human rights issues.

b. Universal Periodic Review (UPR): ECOSOC oversees the UPR process, which involves the review of the human rights records of all UN member states. The UPR provides an opportunity for member states to discuss their efforts and challenges in promoting and protecting human rights.

3. ECOSOC and Data and Statistics:

a. Statistical Commission: ECOSOC’s Statistical Commission is the highest statistical body of the UN system. It sets international statistical standards, promotes the use of data for evidence-based decision-making, and fosters global cooperation in producing reliable and comparable statistics.

b. Data Revolution: ECOSOC promotes the data revolution for sustainable development, emphasizing the importance of high-quality, disaggregated data to inform policies and monitor progress towards the SDGs. It encourages member states to improve data collection, analysis, and dissemination.

4. ECOSOC and Post-Conflict Reconstruction:

a. Peacebuilding Commission (PBC): ECOSOC works closely with the PBC, which supports countries in post-conflict peacebuilding and recovery. ECOSOC’s engagement ensures coherence between peacebuilding efforts and long-term sustainable development goals.

b. Transitional Justice: ECOSOC addresses transitional justice issues, including accountability, reconciliation, and the rule of law, in post-conflict and post-authoritarian contexts. It supports member states in implementing effective transitional justice mechanisms.

5. ECOSOC’s Annual Ministerial Review:

a. The Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) is a key component of ECOSOC’s work. It provides a platform for member states to present their national policies, experiences, and lessons learned in implementing the SDGs. The AMR promotes mutual learning, peer support, and policy coherence among member states.

6. ECOSOC and Financing for Development:

a. Addis Ababa Action Agenda: ECOSOC plays a central role in the follow-up and review of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which outlines the financing framework for sustainable development. It monitors progress, identifies gaps, and provides policy recommendations to mobilize resources and promote effective financing for development.

1. ECOSOC and Global Health:

a. Health-related Goals: ECOSOC plays a crucial role in advancing global health goals, including those related to infectious diseases, access to healthcare, and strengthening health systems. It works closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other specialized agencies to coordinate efforts and mobilize resources for improved health outcomes.

b. High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage: ECOSOC convenes high-level meetings to promote universal health coverage (UHC). UHC aims to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to essential health services without suffering financial hardship.

2. ECOSOC and Education:

a. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD): ECOSOC recognizes the importance of education in achieving sustainable development. It promotes ESD, which integrates sustainable development principles into education systems and provides people with the knowledge, skills, and values needed for a sustainable future.

b. Global Education Monitoring Report: ECOSOC supports the Global Education Monitoring Report, an annual publication that assesses progress and challenges in achieving education-related targets, including those within the SDGs.

3. ECOSOC and Migration:

a. Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD): ECOSOC oversees the GFMD, which serves as a platform for dialogue and cooperation on migration issues. The forum brings together governments, civil society, and international organizations to discuss migration policies, share good practices, and enhance understanding between countries of origin, transit, and destination.

b. Migration-related Resolutions: ECOSOC adopts resolutions on migration, addressing various aspects such as the protection of migrants’ rights, the facilitation of safe and orderly migration, and the promotion of international cooperation on migration governance.

4. ECOSOC and Digital Transformation:

a. Digital Inclusion: ECOSOC recognizes the importance of digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide. It promotes policies and initiatives to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to and can benefit from digital technologies, fostering inclusivity and equal opportunities.

b. Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD): ECOSOC’s CSTD addresses issues related to the impact of science and technology on society, including the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation. It provides guidance on policies and strategies to harness the potential of digital technologies for sustainable development.

5. ECOSOC and Disaster Risk Reduction:

a. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: ECOSOC supports the implementation of the Sendai Framework, which is a global blueprint for disaster risk reduction. It focuses on reducing the impact of disasters, enhancing resilience, and promoting disaster risk reduction in development policies and practices.

b. Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance: ECOSOC works closely with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coordinate and mobilize resources for disaster response and recovery efforts.

1. ECOSOC and Poverty Eradication:

a. Sustainable Development Goal 1: ECOSOC plays a key role in implementing and monitoring progress towards SDG 1, which aims to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. It promotes policies and initiatives that address the root causes of poverty, reduce inequalities, and ensure inclusive economic growth.

b. Social Protection: ECOSOC emphasizes the importance of social protection systems to lift people out of poverty, reduce vulnerability, and promote social inclusion. It supports the development and expansion of social safety nets, access to basic services, and social insurance programs.

2. ECOSOC and Humanitarian Assistance:

a. Coordination of Humanitarian Efforts: ECOSOC works closely with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to coordinate humanitarian assistance in response to crises and natural disasters. It facilitates collaboration among UN agencies, NGOs, and member states to ensure an effective and timely response.

b. Humanitarian Financing: ECOSOC addresses the financing needs of humanitarian assistance and advocates for increased funding to support emergency response, early recovery, and long-term resilience-building efforts in affected communities.

3. ECOSOC and Indigenous Peoples:

a. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: ECOSOC established the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to address the social, economic, and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. The forum provides a platform for dialogue, policy advice, and recommendations to promote indigenous peoples’ rights and sustainable development.

b. Indigenous Rights: ECOSOC supports the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and works towards ensuring the full participation and inclusion of indigenous peoples in decision-making processes that affect their lives and well-being.

4. ECOSOC and Sustainable Urbanization:

a. New Urban Agenda: ECOSOC plays a crucial role in implementing the New Urban Agenda, a global framework for sustainable urban development. It focuses on creating inclusive, safe, and sustainable cities and human settlements, addressing urbanization challenges, and promoting integrated and participatory urban planning.

b. Habitat Agenda: ECOSOC supports the implementation of the Habitat Agenda, which aims to improve living conditions in urban and rural areas. It addresses issues such as housing, infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and access to basic services.

5. ECOSOC and Financing for Development:

a. Financing Strategies: ECOSOC promotes innovative financing strategies to mobilize resources for sustainable development. It explores avenues such as public-private partnerships, impact investments, and blended finance to bridge the financing gap and support the achievement of the SDGs.

b. International Financial Institutions: ECOSOC collaborates with international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, to align their policies and programs with the sustainable development agenda. It advocates for increased resources, debt relief, and improved financial frameworks for developing countries.

1. ECOSOC and Gender Equality:

a. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW): ECOSOC oversees the CSW, the principal global intergovernmental body dedicated to promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The CSW facilitates policy dialogue, reviews progress, and makes recommendations on gender-related issues.

b. Gender Mainstreaming: ECOSOC promotes gender mainstreaming, which involves integrating a gender perspective into all policies, programs, and activities. It emphasizes the importance of addressing gender inequalities and empowering women and girls across all sectors.

2. ECOSOC and Youth Empowerment:

a. Youth Forum: ECOSOC organizes an annual Youth Forum, providing a platform for young people to engage in discussions on sustainable development and contribute their perspectives and ideas. The forum aims to amplify youth voices, promote youth empowerment, and foster intergenerational dialogue.

b. Youth-led Initiatives: ECOSOC recognizes the importance of youth-led initiatives in achieving sustainable development. It supports youth-led organizations and encourages their active participation in decision-making processes and the implementation of the SDGs.

3. ECOSOC and Science, Technology, and Innovation:

a. Technology Facilitation Mechanism: ECOSOC established the Technology Facilitation Mechanism to promote the development, transfer, and deployment of environmentally sound technologies for sustainable development. It facilitates collaboration among governments, the private sector, and other stakeholders to harness the potential of science, technology, and innovation.

b. Science-Policy Interface: ECOSOC promotes the integration of scientific knowledge and evidence-based policymaking. It recognizes the importance of scientific expertise in addressing global challenges and supports mechanisms for enhancing the science-policy interface within the UN system.

4. ECOSOC and Private Sector Engagement:

a. Partnership Initiatives: ECOSOC encourages partnerships between the public and private sectors to mobilize resources, expertise, and innovation for sustainable development. It promotes responsible business practices, corporate social responsibility, and the alignment of private sector activities with the SDGs.

b. United Nations Global Compact: ECOSOC collaborates with the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary initiative that brings together businesses committed to aligning their operations with ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

5. ECOSOC and Regional Economic Commissions:

a. Regional Cooperation: ECOSOC works closely with the five United Nations Regional Economic Commissions (Economic Commission for Africa, Economic Commission for Europe, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) to promote regional integration, economic cooperation, and sustainable development within each region.

b. Regional Development Forums: ECOSOC convenes regional development forums, providing a platform for member states and regional stakeholders to exchange experiences, review progress, and address regional development challenges.