At a time of increased challenge to multilateralism and the role of the United Nations and its agencies across the world, the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa, travelled to the UN offices in Geneva to reinforce the vital importance that history has taught humanity; namely that global challenges require global solutions.

H.E Maria Fernanda Espinosa took the opportunity to meet as many Member States and organisations that form part of the UN family in Geneva in order to outline the priorities for the year ahead and plan with them to translate them into action. She also reported back to the Ambassadors from High Level Week at the General Assembly, during which the overwhelming majority of world leaders had emphasized the need to defend multilateralism and who also had encouraged the UN General Assembly to play a much more proactive role projecting the work and priorities of Member States.

The President spoke at the opening ceremony of the World Investment Forum 2018 on Monday 22 October, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the Global Leaders Investment Summit, whose overarching theme was; ‘Investment in a new Era of Industrialization’, which was attended by well over 2000 delegates and featured speakers from the worlds of diplomacy, politics, business and parastatals. The Summit was hosted by Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), an agency with strong and historical links to the General Assembly. Speakers and delegates focused attention on the means necessary to create 600 million jobs by 2030, in step with the institution of sustainable and more equable societies. On the sidelines of the Summit, the PGA met the President of the World Economic Forum and former Foreign Minister of Norway, Borge Brende. She also spoke at the Women for Sustainable Development Session. Both events were directly linked to the PGAs priority to bring women to the centre of efforts to implement the Agenda 2030.

She noted ‘We need to work together as a big global team, there is no time to lose. And here, I also talk about decent work, about environmental action and the rights of people with disabilities. CEOs and business leaders are bringing, and will continue to bring, their contribution to the table’.

The PGA stressed that investments are crucial to advance economies, especially in developing countries, and that more efforts need to be made to correct imbalances in gender equality. María Fernanda Espinosa mentioned that on average, women workers are paid 23% less than their male counterparts, and that amongst the world’s 500 largest companies, only 5% of CEOs are women. For the President of the General Assembly it is possible to correct this imbalance with the help of Governments, the private sector and societies as a whole.

Furthermore she stressed the importance of the role of the private sector in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030.; that empowering women and youth is key to economic development and ensuring peace and security; and that she would continue to make the case for investing in areas that advance environmental protection and climate action – and that these were messages that she would take to Rome for when she would meet His Holiness, the Pope.


While in Geneva The PGA met with representatives of United Nations offices at Geneva, including: Mr. Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva; Ms. Michelle Bachelet , United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Antonio Manuel de Carvalho Ferreira Vitorino, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM); Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which celebrates its centenary next year (one of the seven priorities of her presidency is decent work, and the PGA is planning a joint event for next year with the ILO); Mr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); H.E. Mr. Vojislav Šuc, President of the Human Rights Council and Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations at Geneva; H.E. Mr. Coly Seck, Permanent Representative of Senegal to the United Nations in Geneva and President of the Human Rights Council in 2019; H.E. Ms. Veronika Bard, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations at Geneva; Mr. Volker Türk, Assistant United Nations High Commissioner for Protection of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

PGA also had a meeting with 24 female Ambassadors, who are taking part in the International Gender Champions initiative (IGC). The network is formed by male and female decision-makers who are determined to break down gender barriers. The Ambassadors agreed with the PGA to strengthen measures with the aim to achieve gender equality as one of their main priorities.


PGA held her first Geneva Press Conference on 23 October. She spoke about the role of the media being key in helping to disseminate the messages of the United Nations. In particular she highlighted the importance of getting global agreement on a new Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at Marrakech in December. She highlighted the work being done and explained that Migration and Refugees were one of her seven priorities for this 73rd Session, as well as gender equality, decent work, people with disabilities, environmental action, youth peace and security, and revitalization of the United Nations. She also noted that many of her seven priorities are cross-cutting and that there is an intention to implement them around campaigns and special actions, as for example a participative global campaign directed towards turning the tide on plastic pollution, as well as the role that youth has in advancing the agenda on peace and security and decent work.

She told journalists that she is committed to working with all Member States in Geneva and New York to make this a productive, smooth and efficient year to achieve concrete results for the people the UN serves around the world


On UN Day the PGA delivered messages recalling the extraordinary role played by the staff of the United Nations and its agencies, since its inception at the end of the Second World War. The PGA sent

two video messages, one in English and Spanish to the UN community and the wider world via social media where she extended her gratitude to all those who serve the United Nations and its agencies.

Speaking at the UN Day Concert in Geneva, the PGA thanked the Federal Council of Switzerland, the Council of the State of Geneva, and the Foundation of Geneva for hosting ‘a very special’ event. She used it to again champion the cause of multilateralism and told a packed theatre that it was ‘ an honour to speak about multilateralism in Geneva, the de-facto ‘Capital of Multilateralism’. She went on to say that ‘From the League of Nations, to the birthplace of the Geneva Conventions and the Red Cross, to hosting numerous UN entities today, Geneva has consistently supported global cooperation. Truly, this is a city that has known and embraced multilateralism. I am very happy to be here in a city that I used to call home’.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Mark Seddon, Media Adviser to the President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly,