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What Does Securing Consultative Status for UN Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC) Mean for CAP, Planning, and Planners?

05 October 2022

By Trudi Elliot, CBE MRTPI Patron CAP

CAP is celebrating securing United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) consultative status. But what does it mean for CAP its 34 member Institutes and their many members? CAP has a history of engaging with the UN and its events particularly those that are pertinent to the work of planning and planners. So why has the organisation invested time and effort in being granted consultative status? As CAP president Eleanor Mohamed said “it has been a lengthy process, it gives us greater opportunities to influence and play our part in delivering the SDGs”

What does EOSOC do?

ECOSOC brings people and issues together to promote collective action for a sustainable world. It is at the centre of the UN development system, conducting cutting-edge analysis, agreeing on global norms and advocating for progress and collective solutions that advance sustainable development. The UN Charter established ECOSOC in 1945 as one of the six main organs of the United Nations.

The clue to what it focuses on is in the name. ECOSOC is the United Nations (UN) central mechanism for coordinating in the areas of economic social and environmental and related field throughout is agencies subsidiary bodies and other systems. ECOSOC is the only UN body with a formal consultative body. ECOSOS describes its activities as:


  • Promoting Sustainable Development

  • Coordination Segment

  • Managing the transition from the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

  • Development Cooperation Forum

  • Financing for sustainable development

  • Coordinating humanitarian action

  • Guiding operational activities for development

  • Providing coordination and oversight

  • Building partnerships

  • Engaging youth

  • Raising awareness on emerging issues

  • Advising on Haiti's long-term development

  • Promoting peaceful and inclusive societies

  • Working with civil society

Its high level political forum is the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals.

What does consultative status mean? 

Quite a lot actually.

Consultative status is only available to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)

“... Consultative arrangements are to be made, on the one hand, for the purpose of enabling the Council or one of its bodies to secure expert information or advice from organizations having special competence in the subjects for which consultative arrangements are made, and, on the other hand, to enable international, regional, sub-regional and national organizations that represent important elements of public opinion to express their views.” — ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, part II, 

ECOSOC indicates that by having consultative status, an NGO could: 


  • Provide expert analysis on issues directly from its experience in the field.

  • Serve as an early warning agent. 

  • Help monitor and implement international agreements.

  • Help raise public awareness of relevant issues.

  • Play a major role in advancing United Nations goals and objectives; and

  • Contribute with essential information at organisation events 

An organisation such as CAP with consultative status can:


  • Attend international conferences and events. 

  • Make written and oral statements at these events. 

  • Organise side events. 

  • Enter United Nations premises; and

  • Have opportunities to network and lobby

How will CAP make the most of this opportunity 

With consultative status CAP will be able to participate more fully in UN events and conferences and enhance its ability to influence on matters that matter to planning and planners and the communities they serve. CAP has regularly attended UN events most recently the UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum, June 26-30, 2022, in Katowice, Poland.

The CAP approach has been to use the attendance and skills of those from its member Institutes who are attending. It encourages Institutes near to any relevant UN events to consider attending. CAP works in partnership with other organisations attending through sharing or contributing to vents and papers .This ensures we are engaged in a cost-effective way. Much work can be done virtually. Almost all our work is collaborative.

ECOSOC is important to the work of planners and those they serve. CAPs consultative status ensure planners across the Commonwealth can have their voice heard, can influence for the benefit of their communities and that we all continue to play our part.

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