The UN General Assembly held an informal meeting to discuss the way forward on the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General in the report, ‘Our Common Agenda’.
UN Member States considered a procedural resolution that would mark the start of their consideration of the 90 recommendations outlined in the report.
Speakers also noted some of their priorities among the proposals in the report.
The UN General Assembly held an informal meeting to discuss the way forward on the proposals made by the UN Secretary-General in the report, ‘Our Common Agenda.’ UN Member States considered a procedural resolution that would mark the start of their consideration of the 90 recommendations outlined in the report. In the words of one speaker at the plenary, continuing with business as usual is “very attractive, but it will not resolve the issues facing our people.”
The informal plenary meeting took place on 25 October 2021, with the UNGA President noting that delegations had had time to digest the recommendations contained in the report, and must now come up with a coordinated response.
The report (A/75/982) was presented on 10 September 2021. Addressing delegations again on 25 October, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he had heard agreement with the “basic diagnosis” in the report, that today’s choices will determine whether the future is fairer and more sustainable, or marked by perpetual crisis. He said the proposals may not be easy to agree on or implement but are the right thing to do, and they aim to “turbocharge” the work on the SDGs, to account for delays caused by the pandemic.
Guterres called on Member States to welcome the report, and noted that while the planning for some actions is already underway within the UN System, the majority of its 90 proposals are for them to consider and act upon.
UN Member States then exchanged views on the priority proposals in the report, and the way forward for discussing their implementation. Several countries indicated a preference for a procedural resolution to welcome the report as a basis for discussion among Member States, under the leadership of the UNGA President. These delegations included the members of the UN75 Leaders Network (Bangladesh, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Jordan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia, Spain), a Group of Friends (Denmark, Fiji, Georgia, Singapore, Mexico, Rwanda, Sweden, Qatar), the Nordic Group, and the EU.
Pakistan said a group of likeminded countries hopes to establish an open-ended working group leading to adoption of a considered draft resolution. These governments, he said, “don’t want to be rushed into adopting any resolution” until the report has been fully considered and its provisions have been debated and discussed.
Canada said “no one wants to rush into decisions in a pre-emptive way” but a resolution could create the decision-making process. India said that to ensure ‘Our Common Agenda’ succeeds, it must be “owned by all of us” and therefore the negotiation process must be fair to developing countries. He stressed that the proposed draft resolution should be purely procedural.
Delegations expressed support for several specific recommendations and elements contained in ‘Our Common Agenda,’ including:
- Summit for the Future, which Japan described as an “opportunity to improve governance of global public goods, turbocharge our efforts to tackle climate change and achieve the SDGs;”
- A global vaccination plan;
- A focus on youth and the summit on transforming education;
- Upgrading the UN to make it more effective and efficient;
- A new or renewed social contract based on human rights, with many speakers stressing the importance of gender equality in decision-making;
- Raising ambition on climate, including financing; and
- Digital cooperation. On this topic, the Group of Friends on Digital Technologies called for further elaboration of the recommendations and said this proposal must be shaped by Member States. They called for developing common principles such as an inclusive approach and leveraging digital transformation to improve lives and advance the SDGs.
One speaker supported the creation of an emergency platform for complex global crises and the publication of a regular strategic forecast report. However, another said it is not possible to have one standing platform for all emergencies, especially as this could conflict with mandates of the UN Security Council.
It was also noted that decolonization has not been completed; therefore the Trusteeship Council cannot be transformed for another use. [Meeting recording]