Wind Farm
A view of the Middelgruden offshore wind farm in Denmark. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Sustainable development is the international community’s most urgent priority, and the core aim of the 2030 Development Agenda for sustainable development. ECOSOC operates at the centre of the UN system’s work on all three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental. It is the unifying platform for integration, action on sustainable development and follow-up and review. 

As the umbrella for the UN’s functional and regional commissions, and operational and specialized agencies, it links the setting of global norms with their implementation. Across diverse fora, it brings together all the different people and partners involved in achieving sustainable development, while fueling broader awareness and action through sharing its own extensive knowledge and issue expertise. 

Within the UN system, ECOSOC has the main responsibility for following up on all major past international conferences linked to the three pillars of sustainable development, and will continue to do this alongside the implementation of the sustainable development goals. As a hub for the exchange of knowledge and mutual learning, it had an instrumental role in examining lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, assessed the transition into the post-2015 agenda, and currently consider the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. ECOSOC also explores the scope of a renewed global partnership and invites youth to share their views on their future. 

Important ECOSOC segments, forums, and meetings for exchanges around sustainable development comprise:


  • 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. 
  • Coordination Segment allows ECOSOC to better deliver on its Charter role to coordinate the UN system and its subsidiary bodies in the economic, social, health, environmental and related areas. It replaces the Integration Segment and the informal meeting of the Council with the Chairs of subsidiary bodies.
  • Humanitarian Affairs Segment strengthens coordination of UN humanitarian efforts
  • Operational Activities for Development Segment provides overall guidance for UN funds and programmes
  • Management Segment reviews reports of ECOSOC subsidiary and expert bodies; promotes UN system coordination on development issues; and considers special country or regional concerns