– As delivered –

Remarks by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the UN General Assembly

28 January 2020

H.E. Mona Juul, President of the Economic and Social Council,


Distinguished Delegates,

I welcome you to this joint briefing, alongside the President of ECOSOC.

ECOSOC and the General Assembly share several mandated processes and areas of work which demand our close collaboration and partnership, namely: Financing for Development; Youth; the preparation for the 5th Conference on the Least Developed Countries; Alignment; as well as the review of ECOSOC and HLPF.

It is an honour to be here alongside the President of ECOSOC. I look forward to our continued engagement throughout the resumed session of the General Assembly on these issues of critical importance including through our monthly meetings.


We have ten years to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is worrisome that the latest SDG Progress Report and the Global Sustainable Development Report state that we are lagging behind the required progress to implement the SDGs by 2030.  Hastening and scaling up action are both essential in this regard.

The political declaration of the SDG Summit, in September 2019, called for us to take transformative actions in this Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development. We need to catalyse transformative actions to ensure effective implementation.

This session, and beyond, we must take swift action to combat the key challenges of poverty, inequalities within and among nations, human rights, gender equality, financing, and the existential threat of climate change.


The 2030 Agenda is a plan for a better world, implementation requires action and sufficient financing, among existing problems related to financing, illicit financial flows was identified. In response the General Assembly through its Resolution 74/206 on illicit financial flows calls on the Presidents of the General Assembly and ECOSOC to consider the importance of combating this issue and to strengthen good practices on asset return in order to foster sustainable development.

More broadly, it was understood that financial integrity is pivotal if we are to sustain the efforts to address the challenge of sufficiency in financing. This is a matter requiring national and multinational cooperation. The lack of financial integrity is a cross-border problem that requires inclusive multilateral action.

It is becoming the foregoing that we have expanded the option, establishing a high-level panel on international financial accountability, transparency and integrity (FACTI) as an additional impetus to ongoing efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We are open to listening to your ideas about how to make the FACTI panel a success, and we would value your thoughts and suggestions.

The High Level panel will be appointed with due consideration of regional and gender balance. It will be co-chaired by Her Excellency Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the former Prime Minister of Denmark, and the former Prime Minister of Niger, His Excellency Ibrahim Mayaki.

Phase One of the panel will review current challenges, identify gaps in the international architecture. Thereafter, the panel will generate specific proposals for updating or developing international frameworks and matching governance arrangements, including in consideration of building capacities for more effective implementation.

To better assure both short-term and medium-term support and pulling of resources, a Secretariat will be hosted by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The President of ECOSOC will provide further details of this initiative.

Thus far the initiative has received wide support.  The Government of Norway made the first contribution to the trust fund which supports the work of the Panel. Further financing will also be provided by the Trust Fund of the Office of the President of the General Assembly. However, this is not an initiative only for the two Presidents.

Member States’ financial contributions and other contributions, as well as active engagement with this work are respectfully solicited. Contributions are to be made to UN DESA.

It is critical that Member States get behind the panel’s work, both substantively and financially.


Young people have been vocal agents for change, and it is only right that they are afforded the opportunity to voice their concerns and proffer solutions here at the United Nations. I look forward to the Youth Plenary in late March, which will be convened in conjunction with ECOSOC Youth Forum.

Here, those with the biggest stake, the youth, will discuss “The Future We Want”, in the context of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the UN.  I call on all delegations to continue including youth in their work, in line with our pledge to leave no one behind.

In terms of inclusion, we must also focus efforts on reaching the furthest behind, first. I look forward to the half-day thematic event in preparation for the upcoming Fifth Conference on the Least Developed Countries to be held in Qatar in 2021 which will be held jointly with the President of ECOSOC.

This will be an opportunity to review the efficiency of the Istanbul Programme of Action and will be a call to action as we focus on accelerating progress in the 47 countries most susceptible to being left behind. We will convey the date and modalities of this event in due course.


Regarding the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, the relevant resolution requests that the President of the General Assembly enhance synergies and coherence and to address gaps, overlaps and duplication in the Agendas of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and their subsidiary bodies. I have engaged the President of ECOSOC and the General Committee on this important matter.

I trust that you will proffer your full support to the Co-Facilitators, the Permanent Representatives of Botswana and Montenegro, in order to build upon progress made in previous sessions.

I also count on you to support the Permanent Representatives of Benin and Georgia, who will co-facilitate the review of ECOSOC and the follow-up and review of the High-Level Political Forum. This process will allow us to improve the architecture of the HLPF, further strengthen the ECOSOC so that it is fit for purpose and better align the review periods of both processes.


The majority of the SDG targets related to environmental action and biodiversity mature in 2020 and as such our efforts are directed towards making progress on nature.

Making gains on nature will accelerate our implementation of the SDGs.

I encourage each of us to make nature a central part of our efforts in galvanizing action at upcoming platforms, notably: the Oceans Conference, the High-level Dialogue on Desertification, both of which take

place in June; the Summit on Biodiversity, as well as the Interactive Dialogue to mark International Mother Earth Day on April 22nd.

We know that environmental degradation is exacerbating hunger, which is on the rise. We have the necessary resources to end hunger. Sadly, we are not on track to achieve SDG 2. What we need now, is action.

An Interactive Dialogue on ‘Targeting Hunger: South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Transforming Agriculture’ will take place on the 12th February, which will provide a platform to map a new trajectory towards achieving zero hunger by 2030.

This event will provide a platform to share experiences and discuss how best to support smallholder farmers, the majority of whom are women.


If we are to put our best efforts towards implementing the 2030 Agenda, we must also focus on the impact of rapid technological change on our common goals. Today more than 40% of the world does not have access to digital services, and the digital divide is widening.

To address this problem, I will convene a High-level Thematic Debate on Rapid Technological Change on May 11th, on the eve of ECOSOC’s STI Forum in order to allow Member States and participants to deepen the dialogue on this matter.


We must uphold our promise to leave no one behind. Gender equality will be central to both our work.   In this context, the General Assembly will build on ECOSOC’s work on this important topic. 

Following the Commission on the Status of Women commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Fourth World Conference, I will be pleased to host a multi stakeholders dialogue on July 21st to lead up to the commemoration during the upcoming High-Level Week. 

We cannot achieve progress on any of the SDGs if we leave 50% of the population behind.

We must remember that the Decade of Action and Delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a window of opportunity to deliver on our priorities through closer collaboration between the GA and ECOSOC, as well as other bodies in the UN system.

Let us pay tribute to the level of ambition demonstrated in 2015 and take urgent action to deliver results. This is what really matters. Progress on this framework will further our work in human rights and peace and security.

I urge you to act today and every day, so that together we can shape our future and guide it to the best ends.

I thank you.