For the past 75 years, royals, presidents, prime ministers and other world leaders have been coming together at the UN General Assembly every year to discuss and attempt to peacefully resolve the planet’s gravest challenges. This year, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, they will stay at home. But the conversation and cooperation carry on.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging on in many parts of the world, including in the UN’s host nation, the United States, the General Debate of the General Assembly this month will, for the first time in history, move to the virtual reality.

Although virtual meetings are a far cry from real-life, human interaction, international cooperation is more important than ever, as the world grapples with a global pandemic, a collapsing economy, catastrophic climate change and a human crisis that threatens to push millions into poverty.

United Nations turns 75

On 21 September the world will be reminded of the value of multilateralism, as the United Nations celebrates its historic 75th anniversary, reflecting on all that humanity has achieved together, and all that is still left to do. “We, the peoples” will also recommit to the vision of the UN Charter, which is more relevant today than ever before.

SDG Action continues

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out years of progress, the world remains resolute to deliver the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Every year between now and 2030, world leaders at the General Assembly will be joining the “SDG moment,” an annual check-in to instil a renewed sense of urgency, ambition and accountability into our collective efforts.

But States alone will not be able to achieve the ambitious 2030 Agenda. To support them, UN DESA will invite private sector leaders for the annual SDG Business Forum, to be held virtually on 23 September, in cooperation with the UN Global Compact and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The Forum will spark a meaningful dialogue on the role of the private sector in addressing the current economic landscape and to co-create lasting solutions for a more sustainable future.

A range of other high-level events, including the Biodiversity Summit, and a meeting to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will punctuate the busy September week for the General Assembly.