Imperial to advise UN Economic and Social Council on reducing world inequalities

by , ,

Katharina Hauck

Professor Katharina Hauck

Imperial has been awarded consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The new status will see Imperial’s community closely engage with ECOSOC to contribute towards policymaking, hold joint events with the UN, and advance the Sustainable Development Goals through research and collaboration.

The UN’s ECOSOC coordinates the economic, environmental, social, and related work of the 15 United Nations specialised agencies.

As part of Imperial’s new relationship with ECOSOC, the Global Development Hub held an event with the UN Partnership Forum about upscaling partnerships during the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel discussion will inform key recommendations that will be presented to leaders at the UN Secretariat.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw an urgent need for global partnerships to rapidly manage and mitigate the spread of the virus.

During the pandemic, Imperial engaged with governments, researchers, and public health agencies to work towards solutions, both in terms of health impacts, and other aspects of life and society.

Prof Sarah Fidler
Professor Sarah Fidler chaired the virtual event

Professor Sarah Fidler, Professor of HIV and Communicable Diseases and Co-Chair of the Global Development Hub, moderated the UN Partnership Forum event.

Professor Fidler said: “The Global Development Hub is an ambitious initiative focusing on leveraging research and educational expertise in science, technology, medicine, and business to impact on sustainable development challenges faced by the most vulnerable and marginalised people in societies where multiple global challenges are acutely concentrated.

“As an organisation with consultative status with ECOSOC, we recognise the importance of bringing together partners from difference disciplines to work together with end-users and policymakers.”

Pandemic inequalities

Marisa Miraldo
Professor Marisa Miraldo

The academics and experts explored how the COVID-19 pandemic and the policies in place impacted different socioeconomic groups, with those already experiencing housing, food, and financial-related insecurities being the hardest hit.  

Professor Marisa Miraldo: Professor in Health Economics and Policy, explained how these inequalities grew as a result of siloed policies promoting health or economic prosperity, which in turn, neglected the importance of people’s living and working conditions, their lifestyles, as well as their social networks.

People whose jobs did not allow them to work remotely were impacted more.

Professor Miraldo advocates for “whole-of-society and whole-of-government” approaches to better incorporate the complexity of social, economic, and health outcomes and effectively inform personalised and adaptive interventions.

Science and innovation to fight global health emergencies

During the pandemic, modelling became a key tool to inform global and societal decisions.

Professor Katharina Hauck: Professor in Health Economics and Deputy Director of the Jameel Institute, presented the DAEDALUS model developed at the Jameel Institute, which combines epidemiological and economic factors.

This played a vital role in advising policymakers in a lower-middle income country in South-East Asia to extend its national lockdown as opposed to reopening the economy, as well as in promoting Indonesia’s first booster vaccination campaign.

The model has also been used to evaluate different hypothetical scenarios of pandemic preparedness, such as a Spanish flu outbreak in Singapore.

However, Professor Hauck emphasised that “science changes as circumstances change, and science is trial and error”, and there is a need to better communicate this to the public to avoid reducing trust in science.

Alex Bond (Left)
Alex Bond (left) CEO of Fresh Check

The value of collaboration was also highlighted by Alex Bond, Co-Founder and CEO of Fresh Check and an Imperial alumnus, who recounted how Fresh Check developed a local supply chain using multiple networks providing financial, manufacturing, and technical expertise. These were fundamental in launching their hygiene-verifying swab at a time when global supply chains were disrupted.

Engage with Imperial's Global Development Hub and UN's ECOSOC

If you want to engage with Imperial's Global Development Hub or the UN's ECOSOC, you can find out more information and details of how to get in touch with the team here.


Jaclyn Estrin

Jaclyn Estrin
International Relations Office

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Show all stories by this author

Marta Cortesi

Marta Cortesi
Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication

Stephen Johns

Stephen Johns
Communications Division

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 9531

Show all stories by this author


International, Research, Coronavirus, COVIDWEF, Health-policy, Global-Development-Hub
See more tags