In addition to climate change, the UNGA 73 President and the UN Secretary-General identified inequality as a key global challenge, while the UNGA 74 President identified the empowerment of youth, women and vulnerable peoples as a priority.
Speakers also identified poverty, migration and eradication of single-use plastics as priorities.
17 September 2019: The Presidents of the 73rd and 74th sessions of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Secretary-General each identified climate change as a key global challenge in their remarks at the closing of UNGA 73 and the opening of UNGA 74. They all highlighted the role of the Assembly in tackling global challenges.
UNGA 73 President María Espinosa Garcés (Ecuador) stressed the UN’s establishment to “confront the major challenges facing humanity” in her outgoing remarks. She identified climate change, inequality and terrorism as major challenges alongside long-standing challenges, such as poverty, hunger and war. Garcés said the UNGA is the ideal forum to reach agreements and make progress towards global solutions to these challenges.
Garcés recalled her Presidency’s priorities, particularly the strengthening of women in the UNGA’s activities. She further highlighted, inter alia: eradication of single-use plastics at UN Headquarters; support for the Global Compact on Migration; the need for decent work for all in the context of the International Labour Organization (ILO) centennial; inclusion of youth; and synergies across the Organization. Garcés expressed hope that UNGA 74 defends multilateralism to “deliver tangible results to people’s lives.”
The UNGA is a universal platform to build consensus for the common good.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed that “global challenges require global solutions” at the closing session of UNGA 73. He identified key challenges such as climate change, inequality and migration, as well as the need to tackle intolerance and harness technology for good. He described the UNGA as a “universal platform to build consensus for the common good.” Guterres concluded his remarks by thanking Garcés for her work as “a champion of multilateralism”; her commitment to the environment, especially ending plastic pollution; and her role in increasing the participation of women in the political sphere and accelerating gender equality.
In his opening remarks, UNGA 74 President, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), highlighted the UNGA’s role in eradicating poverty, combating climate change and empowering vulnerable people. He outlined his priorities for UNGA 74, including: climate change; access to free, high quality primary and secondary education; the empowerment of youth, women and other vulnerable groups; and effective conflict mediation and early settlement of disputes. Muhammad-Bande highlighted the UNGA’s role in building “trust and empathy among Member States” to address global challenges.
Speakers praised UNGA 73’s adoption of several key agreements, including two Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees, and progress on UN reform. Speakers also looked forward to upcoming events during UNGA 74, including the annual UNGA High-level Debate and five summits on climate action, the SDGs, financing for development (FfD), universal health care (UHC) and small island developing States (SIDS). UN Secretary-General Guterres identified 2020 as a critical year for action on the SDGs and building “urgent ambition on climate change,” convincing people of the relevance of the UN and the role of multilateralism in solving global challenges. [UN Press Release on UNGA 73 Closing] [UN Secretary-General Statement at UNGA 73 Closing] [UN Press Release on UNGA 74 Opening] [UN Secretary-General Statement at UNGA 74 Opening]