12 September 2017
Closing UNGA 71, President Thomson Calls for Behavioral Change to Achieve SDGs
UN Photo/Cia Pak
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During UNGA 71's closing plenary, UNGA 71 President Peter Thomson reflected on progress on galvanizing momentum for the SDGs during his tenure.

He urged increased awareness on the behavioral changes and transformations needed to achieve the SDGs and called on society to “embrace the power of innovation and technology to leverage SDG implementation and combat climate change at the speed and scale required”.

11 September 2017: At the conclusion of the closing plenary of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), incoming UNGA President Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia became the second UNGA President to take an Oath of Office.

Outgoing UNGA President Peter Thomson reflected that UNGA 71 succeeded in generating momentum across the SDGs, but observed that progress on individual SDGs on the ground is “uneven across regions, between the sexes and among people of different ages, wealth and locales.” Thomson urged increased awareness on the SDGs to ensure society embraces the “transformation of systems and behaviors for a sustainable way of life on this planet.” Thomson further urged, inter alia: actions to address gaps in SDG implementation; more systematic approaches to facilitate partnerships and collaborations; alignment of the financial system towards the SDGs, including a surge of private investment in developing countries, an increase in development assistance and an improvement in global tax cooperation; and recognition of the power of innovation and technology to leverage SDG implementation and combat climate change.

Thomson plans to dedicate his future working life to ocean action and achieving SDG 14 to ensure the ocean is “restored to sustainable health.”

Thomson concluded by stressing his conviction that “faithful implementation” of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the 2030 Agenda is “the only way we can safeguard the future of our grandchildren on Planet Earth.” Thomson said he plans to dedicate his future work to ocean action in pursuit of achieving SDG 14 (life below water) and its targets so that humanity arrives at “2030 with an ocean restored to sustainable health.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres thanked Thomson for steering Members States to a “solid record of achievement” during a productive session that included the convening of the UN Ocean Conference and momentum to achieve SDG 14, establishment of the Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and adoption of the New York Declaration on large movements of refugees and migrants. Guterres further praised Thomson’s support on the resolution on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) of operational activities for development, which he said “set the stage for repositioning” the UN to better support countries to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Thomson was the first UNGA President to take an Oath of Office and pledge to adhere to the Code of Ethics. Thomson was also the first President to participate in the UN’s Financial Disclosure Programme and to rely solely on the UN regular budget allocation and contributions of the Office of the President of the UNGA Trust Fund to run the office. UNGA 70 President Mogens Lykketoft advocated for such a culture of transparency during his term.

UNGA 72 will open 12 September. [UN Press Release] [UNGA 71 President Statement] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UN Secretary-General Interview on UNGA 72] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on UNGA 71 Opening]

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