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The Economic and Social Council is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental. It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.

The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.


Wide view of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber during the special meeting on the topic of "Ebola : A Threat to Sustainable Development". UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

Coordination within the UN

ECOSOC links a diverse family of subsidiary bodies and UN entities (Organigram) dedicated to sustainable development, providing overall guidance and coordination. These include regional economic and social commissions, functional commissions facilitating intergovernmental discussions of major global issues, expert bodies establishing important global normative frameworks, and specialized agencies, programmes and funds at work around the world to translate development commitments into real changes in people’s lives.

Reforms over the last decade, particularly General Assembly resolutions 68/172/305 and 75/290 A, have strengthened ECOSOC’s leading role in identifying emerging challenges, promoting innovation, and achieving a balanced integration of the three pillars - economic, social and environmental- of sustainable development. The 2021 review, which was undertaken together with the resolutions on the High-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), bolstered ECOSOC’s Charter mandate as a coordinator, convener and specialized body for policy dialogue, policy-making and forger of consensus towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as other major UN /conferences and summits under its purview, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to address other major global challenges and new issues. Resolution 75/290A thus strengthened the coordination role of the Council, and it also reinforced its deliberative nature. Furthermore, resolutions 75/290A and 75/290B enhanced the coordination between the work of ECOSOC and the HLPF.

Partnership with the rest of the world

Building on its coordination role within the UN system, ECOSOC is a gateway for UN partnership and participation by the rest of the world. It offers a unique global meeting point for productive dialogues among policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, foundations, businesses, youth and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations.

A spotlight on global issues

Each year, ECOSOC structures its work around an annual theme of global importance to sustainable development. This ensures focused attention, among ECOSOC’s array of partners, and throughout the UN development system. 


By emphasizing combined economic, social and environmental concerns, ECOSOC encourages agreement on coherent policies and actions that make fundamental links across all three.

ECOSOC’s annual High-Level Segment includes:

  • High-Level Political Forum provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, and reviews progress in implementing sustainable development commitments.

  • High-level Segment, held on an annual basis, represents the culmination of ECOSOC's annual cycle of work and convenes a diverse group of high-level representatives from Government, the private sector, civil society and academia.

Other segments, forums, and meetings encompass:




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