PRESS BRIEFING BY BRENDEN VARMA, SPOKESPERSON FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT VOLKAN BOZKIR
PRESIDENT CONVENES 1ST EVER U.N. BIODIVERSITY SUMMIT
- Today the President is convening the UN’s first ever Summit on Biodiversity.
- In his remarks this morning, he said our existence on this planet depends entirely on our ability to protect the natural world around us. And if we continue down out current path, we will jeopardize food security, water supplies, livelihoods, and our ability to fight diseases and face extreme events.
- The Summit will last all day today. Inscribed on the speakers list are 72 Heads of State and Government – 10 of whom are women. Included this morning was a video message from H.R.H. Prince Charles.
- The goal of the Summit is to galvanize urgent action on biodiversity and build political momentum for the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in Kunming, China, in May 2021.
- The post-2020 global biodiversity framework aims to do for protecting ecosystems what the Paris agreement is doing for climate. It will be the most ambitious and comprehensive ecosystem protection framework in human history.
- This is especially vital during the current pandemic, as COVID19 is amongst the 60% of infectious diseases considered “zoonotic” – or originating from animal populations under severe environmental pressure.
- Asked whether a communiqué would be issued after the Summit, the Spokesperson said a factual summary by the President would be prepared and then shared when available. He later informed the journalist that it should be ready during the first week of November.
GENERAL DEBATE WRAPS UP AFTER HEARING FROM 190 MEMBER STATES
- The 75th session’s General Debate wrapped up yesterday evening.
- In his closing statement, the President said, “For the first time in the history of this organization, global leaders were not able to be here in person. But this did not prevent multilateralism from operating at the highest levels.”
- He added, “The fact that so many world leaders chose to address this Assembly, is a testament to the power and relevance of the United Nations.”
- “Through their virtual presence, our political leaders have demonstrated their commitment to multilateralism and the United Nations,” he said.
- In all, 190 Member States spoke – plus the Holy See, Palestine and the European Union.
- The 190 Member State representatives included 102 Heads of State, 1 Vice President, 55 Heads of Government, 1 Deputy Prime Minister and 26 Ministers.
- Of the 190, nine speakers were women. Those nine included four Heads of State, four Heads of Government and one Minister.
- The longest speech was 48 minutes. It was given by the President of France. The shortest speeches were six minutes. Those were given by the Presidents of Hungary and Mongolia.
- Yesterday, seven delegations exercised their rights of reply orally. The seven were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Iran, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- Meanwhile, on the high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN, that will resume on 26 October. Currently, there are 59 representatives on the draft speakers list.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson later confirmed to the journalist that, out of the 59, 12 videos were currently not in possession. He expected some of the 12 not to send a video but rather to have their statements read out in person.
PRESIDENT SENDS CONDOLENCES TO KUWAIT FOLLOWING DEATH OF AMIR, ASSEMBLY TO PAY TRIBUTE WITH FORMAL MEETING
- The President sent his condolences yesterday to the people of Kuwait following the passing away of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He said the Amir had always played a leadership role in the region, as a true diplomat, conflict mediator and humanitarian.
- The General Assembly will meet to pay tribute to the late Amir. This is in line with the Assembly’s practice to hold formal plenary meetings to honor the memories of deceased national leaders who were sitting Heads of State at their time of death.
- As per practice, this formal meeting will be in person – and feature statements by the President of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General, the chairs of the five regional groups, the host country and the country concerned – in this case, Kuwait.
- Details are still being worked out with Kuwait and the Secretariat. We hope to be able to announce a date for the meeting soon.
PRESIDENT TO CONVENE ‘BEIJING+25’ MEETING ON WOMEN TOMORROW
- Looking ahead, tomorrow the President will convene the high-level meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women – also known as Beijing+25.
- The President will open that meeting at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
PRESIDENT HOLDS BILATERAL MEETINGS WITH CHINA, ITALY, SLOVAKIA
- Asked how many bilateral virtual meetings the President had held over the past week, the Spokesperson noted that the President had held a phone meeting with the Foreign Minister of China over the weekend, and virtual bilateral meetings this week with the Prime Minister of Italy and the Foreign Minister of Slovakia.