Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the United Nations Foundation “We the Peoples” dinner, in New York today:
What a pleasure it is to be here with so many outstanding leaders and with so many good friends of the United Nations. I want to bottle up the energy and ideas in the room tonight and make it available at every shop and kiosk across the world!
Kathy Calvin, thank you for your outstanding leadership of the United Nations Foundation. We have been inspired every day by your creativity and commitment.
Elizabeth Cousens, knowing your leadership in the United Nations as we designed the Sustainable Development Goals, we expect great things from you and we know you bring great passion and experience to the job.
Let me also thank the United Nations Foundation writ large. From a stunning act of generosity and brainstorm more than two decades ago, it has grown into a global force for improving lives and fostering international cooperation — and with a focus where it should be, on the world’s young people.
That brings me to Jay’Len Boone, the United States Youth Observer to the United Nations and a powerful voice for your generation. Please: keep raising the volume; keep demanding the change we so desperately need. Don’t stop.
We gather tonight as fellow champions of the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s blueprint for a just and sustainable future. Since their adoption four years ago, the Goals have been embraced across the world by political leaders, businesses, activists, citizens, schoolkids and more. They have resonated deeply.
At the same time, we know we are not on track. Poverty persists, hunger is rising again, inequality is growing, and the climate crisis threatens hard‑won progress. My message tonight is simple: for people and for planet, we must step up with greater ambition and urgency.
We need a global movement to transform our economies and our societies. We need to build a fair globalization in which the benefits reach all people. And we need to respond to the anxieties and frustrations that are coursing through streets and societies across the world at this time.
This is why the Secretary‑General has called for a Decade of Action to deliver the Goals. They offer our best framework for generating prosperity, protecting the planet and preventing conflict. And it is why the United Nations has been working so intently to reform itself, and in particular to strengthen its development system. We want to be an effective partner for people everywhere in bringing the goals to life.
As we launch the Decade of Action, we will also mark the seventy‑fifth anniversary of the United Nations. We see this milestone not only as something to celebrate, but as a moment to renew our collective project.
We are also launching a global conversation on the challenges we face, how to overcome them and how to shape a better future. 2020 is the year we must change course. And we need everyone to be part of it. We need the voice of the world’s young people, and the power of civil society. We need the engine of sustainable development that only a responsible and progressive private sector can provide. We need the influence of an active, well informed, and engaged media. We need creators and artists. We need the faithful. We need the determined.
Tonight, we honour extraordinary individuals who are already on this path, fighting for equality and for our planet’s future. I am especially proud of the winners of tonight’s United Nations Heroes Award, which recognize United Nations humanitarians serving on the front lines of some of the world’s toughest crises. We will meet four of them this evening, but they represent a global community of thousands of women and men who work to save lives every single day. They are the heartbeat of the United Nations.
I recently travelled to Afghanistan and remember vividly these Afghan women risking their lives to save communities from landmines, and these other women negotiating with the Taliban to ensure their rights in the peace process.
Let us channel that spirit in all that we do. As you move forward, the United Nations will be your close partner in achieving our shared goals and in upholding the values that bind us as one family. Thank you.