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Thursday, September 30, 2021


High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs

Breakdown or breakthrough - top global thinkers weigh in on the UN plan to reboot multilateralism

In September 2021, top economists, global thought leaders and former Heads of State and Government came together for the second meeting of the High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs to discuss solutions to rampant inequalities, runaway climate change and other pressing challenges facing the world.

The Board examined topics such as financing for development, economic insecurity, a just transition to a carbon-neutral future and resilience-building for future crises, and zeroed in on the latest report of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “Our Common Agenda.” Released on 10 September 2021, the report lays out the UN vision for the future of global cooperation across 12 areas that will make a tangible difference for people and planet.

 Under-Secretary-General Liu Zhenmin and members of the High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs participate in the Board meeting in September 2021.

About the High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs

The United Nations High-level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs was established  in the context of United Nations development system reform, as a key part of efforts to enhance support to Member States of the United Nations in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Board, convened by Liu Zhenmin, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, has provided advice to the United Nations on broad economic and social issues, including near-term prospects and risks for the world economy, frontier technologies, inequality, migration, issues associated with countries in special situations.

In addition, the HLAB has provided guidance to the research and policy analysis work of UN DESA, and Board members have played an active role in strengthening the linkage between UN DESA and the global economic and social policy research community, and have promoted UN DESA publications and reports at national and global levels. The HLAB members also participate in the Department's Global Policy Dialogue Series, sharing their expertise with a wide online audience.

Since it was launched in 2018, the HLAB deliberations on many contemporary and cross-cutting issues and challenges have expanded our understanding of complex economic and social issues and inspired the United Nations to break new ground in policy research. In July 2020, the first HLAB produced the compilation "Recover Better"  with early reflections on leveraging the recovery from COVID-19 into a transformative period for attaining sustainable development.

The Board entered its second term in January 2021 with 20 globally renowned experts in the economic and social policy fields, including former Heads of State, a Nobel Laureate, former Senior Government Officials and intellectual leaders.


The second term (2021-2023)

Building on the accomplishments of the first HLAB, the second term of the Board (HLAB-II) will continue to strengthen, for the next two years, the United Nations thought leadership on sustainable development and to reinforce its impact at the forefront of sustainable development policy at global, regional and local levels.

Following the Secretary-General’s invitation to reinvigorate multilateralism, HLAB-II aims to provide focused guidance and recommendations to respond to current and future challenges in the post-COVID-19 world, including in the areas of leaving no one behind, building trust by addressing inequalities, improve digital cooperation, ensuring sustainable financing and boosting partnerships.

Board members 

The following experts have been appointed to the UN High-level Advisory Board (HLAB-II) on Economic and Social Affairs (2021-2023):

  •     Giancarlo Corsetti, Professor of Macroeconomics, University of Cambridge
  •     Diane Coyle, Inaugural Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge
  •     Ibrahim Elbadawi, Managing Director, Economic Research Forum for the Arab World, Iran & Turkey
  •     Alex Ezeh, Dornsife Professor of Global Health at the Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University
  •     Marcel Fratzscher, President of DIW Berlin
  •     Anastasia J. Gage, Professor at the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University
  •     Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  •     Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Central Asia at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
  •     Ricardo Lagos, Honorary Chairman of the Inter-American Dialogue; former President of Chile (2000-2006)
  •     Mariana Mazzucato, Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value, University College London (UCL)
  •     José Antonio Ocampo, Professor, Columbia University, and Chair of the Committee for Development Policy of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
  •     Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School
  •     Jeffrey D. Sachs, University Professor, Columbia University
  •     Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Chief Executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs
  •     Joseph E. Stiglitz, University Professor, Columbia University
  •     Heizo Takenaka, Professor Emeritus, Keio University, and Professor, Toyo University
  •     Izabella Mônica Vieira Teixeira, former Minister of Environment (2010-2016), Brazil
  •     Kori Udovički, Head of the Center for Advanced Economic Studies (CEVES)
  •     Ernesto Zedillo, Director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; former President of Mexico (1994-2000)
  •     Min Zhu, Chairman, National Institute of Financial Research, Tsinghua University
  •     Elliott Harris, UN Assistant-Secretary-General for Economic Development and UN Chief Economist (ex officio member)

Click here for short bios of the Board Members of the HLAB-II.




"Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities"

Members of the High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs (HLAB) offer fresh new ideas that can prevent new pandemics while achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a volume of policy briefs, “Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities,” issued by UN DESA in July 2020.

The collection of seven expert-written essays from HLAB members offers new guidance for rebuilding societies in a fairer, more inclusive way. The volume provides outside-the-box thinking and new solutions to some of this era’s most pressing tests. The authors advance ideas on issues that include improving international tax cooperation, more equitable access to digital technological advances, and sustainable natural resource management that complement the broader recommendations of the Secretary-General regarding shared responsibility and global solidarity in responding to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19.

The observations and recommendations outlined in “Recover Better,” some of which offer region-specific suggestions, can inform COVID-19 responses so that countries build back better and avoid returning to a pre-pandemic pathway, where progress towards important objectives such as ending extreme poverty and limiting global temperature rise was not rapid enough.



"Recover Better" launch event

22 July 2020: Launch of the HLAB's new volume, "Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities"

On 22 July 2020, UN DESA and the United Nations High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs (HLAB) launched the Board's new volume, "Recover Better: Economic and Social Challenges and Opportunities." This online dialogue aimed to answer questions including, "Are we in a recession?" What should countries do to recover better? Is a green recovery possible?

The event was broadcast live, and recordings can be accessed via, and on Facebook at

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