UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces briefed Member States on plans for the remaining eight months of the 73rd UNGA session.
She outlined upcoming events and initiatives related to the 2030 Agenda, financing for development, synergies among UN bodies, gender equality, climate change, plastic pollution and the role of cities.
15 January 2019: UN General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces briefed Member States on plans for the remaining eight months of the 73rd UNGA session. She outlined several upcoming events and initiatives related to the 2030 Agenda, financing for development, synergies among UN bodies, gender equality, climate change, plastic pollution and the role of cities.
Espinosa said the 2030 Agenda is “a cornerstone of the success of multilateralism,” and more public understanding and support for the SDGs is needed. She highlighted several events related to the 2030 Agenda that will convene in 2019 and that require coordinated planning.
First, she reminded delegations that the HLPF will convene twice in 2019, once under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in July, and in September 2019 under the UNGA as the ‘HLPF Summit.’ She said the two must be closely coordinated, and she is working closely with the ECOSOC President and the co-facilitators to ensure synergies between the meetings. According to a document circulated at the briefing titled, ‘Preliminary List of High-level Events and Key Meetings,’ a Leaders Roundtable on SDG Targets will convene alongside the HLPF in July 2019.
Espinosa also highlighted two meetings on financing for development (FfD) taking place in 2019: the ECOSOC Forum on FfD Follow-up, which she said will feed into the outcome of the HLPF Summit, and the UNGA’s High-level Dialogue on FfD. The President said she is working with the co-facilitators of those events to ensure synergies, as well.
She also stressed the need for all of the high-level UNGA meetings scheduled for the opening week of the 74th Session to be handled in a coherent, synergetic way. In addition to the HLPF summit and the FfD dialogue, these meetings include: a high-level meeting on universal health coverage; a high-level meeting on the elimination of nuclear weapons; and the mid-term review of the Samoa Pathway on small island developing States (SIDS).
Espinosa noted that she will convene a joint briefing with the ECOSOC President on 31 January to discuss coherence among the bodies, including with regard to the 2019 HLPF meetings. The briefing will address the ongoing process to enhance synergies and coherence and reduce overlap among bodies in light of the 2030 Agenda. It will also include updates on: the HLPF, youth, decent work and FfD.
Rather than negotiating long documents and resolutions, this is a time for ensuring capital flows “at scale and urgently” for climate change and the 2030 Agenda.
In remarks following the President’s briefing, El Salvador highlighted the “double HLPF” taking place in 2019, cautioning that the HLPF Summit should not be “drowned” out during the high-level week but utilized as a true opportunity to examine the implementation of the 2030 Agenda four years after its adoption.
Canada, noting his role as a co-facilitator for the High-level Dialogue on FfD, along with Ghana, said the meeting needs to be planned in coordination with the other processes underway, such as the FfD Forum and the HLPF Summit. He called on everyone to think outside of the box on “how we’re going to do this.” He stressed that given the need for action on the 2030 Agenda, this is not a time for long documents or negotiations on reoslutions, but making sure the right actors are engaged so that “capital flows way more, at scale and urgently” for climate change and the 2030 Agenda.
Tanzania and the UK said that they will present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) during the HLPF in July, with the UK noting its intention to include a focus on financing the SDGs.
On gender equality and empowerment of women, Espinosa reported that she has established a Group of Gender Equality Leaders as an informal forum of eminent persons to accelerate gender equality. The Group’s first meeting will take place on 29 January, in collaboration with the UN Foundation. It is aimed at identifying barriers to women’s full participation and leadership in both the public and private sectors, and sharing best practices for accelerating women’s empowerment.
She also highlighted the Women in Power summit she is convening on 12 March 2019 on the margins of the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). The Summit will promote women’s leadership, including by engaging young women leaders and fostering an intergenerational environment for dialogue.
On protection of environment, Espinosa said she expects 2019 to be “a decisive year, as we near the first milestones of 2030 agenda.” She highlighted upcoming events including:
- On 14 February, a joint briefing with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Climate Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, to outline the roadmap of preparations for the event, which will take place on 23 September 2019; and
- On 28 March, a high-level UNGA meeting to “build on the momentum from COP 24 and pave the way” for the Climate Summit.
On plastic pollution, the President highlighted efforts to reduce single-use plastics in UN Member States’ Permanent Missions and UN facilities. She will host a briefing on an action plan called for in UNGA resolution 71/228 to integrate sustainable development practices into the Secretariat’s operations and facilities management, in order to ensure that these do not have a negative impact on the climate. In addition, she is organizing a festival with the governments of Norway and Antigua and Barbuda on 27 April 2019 in Antigua and Barbuda, to encourage awareness and action on plastic pollution.
On the role of cities, Espinosa will hold a meeting with mayors and other stakeholders on 19 February in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) to address the role of cities in sustainable development, food security, nutrition and climate change. Among other topics that Espinosa discussed, she said:
- On the 75th anniversary of the UN, which takes place in 2020, she will appoint co-facilitators for discussions on the theme, date and modalities of the commemoration event;
- On migration, co-facilitators have been appointed for consultations on the modalities of the International Migration Review Forum, which will be the intergovernmental platform for global discussions of progress on implementing the global compact on migration adopted in Marrakech in December 2018, and a high-level debate on international migration and development will take place on 27 February;
- On decent work, Espinosa will convene a high-level event on 10 April. On 9 April, a town hall will focus on interlinkages between decent work and youth, peace and security, in the context of the ECOSOC Youth Forum, which convenes on 8-9 April. These events seek to build on the momentum created by the in-depth review of SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) taking place during the July 2019 session of the HLPF, as well as the commemoration of the centenary of the International Labor Organisation (ILO);
- On persons with disabilities, a Steering Committee on Accessibility at the UN was launched in late 2018, focusing on accessibility on UN premises, and on 10 June 2019 she will host a high-level event; and
- On strengthening the multilateral rules-based system, the President will convene a meeting of former UNGA presidents, on 4 February, in order to craft a set of recommendations. In addition, a High-level Event will take place on the International Day of Multilateralism, on 24 April 2019.
The 73rd UNGA session will close on 16 September 2019, and Espinosa will be succeeded by the President of the 74th session on 17 September. The next President is to be selected from the Group of African States. The UNGA will hold interactive dialogues with the candidates in early May, followed by the election in early June. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [Statement of UNGA president] [UN press release] [Meeting webcast]
- Joint Briefing by Presidents of UNGA and ECOSOC
- High-level Debate on International Migration and Development
- Women in Power Summit
- High-level Meeting: Climate Protection for All
- High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage
- 63rd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
- Financing for Development (FfD) Forum 2019
- ECOSOC Youth Forum 2019
- UN 2019 Climate Summit
- High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development
- UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under UNGA Auspices
- High-level Review of Progress on SAMOA Pathway
- High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019 Convened by ECOSOC
- 74th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74)