Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend my warm appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this series of thematic consultations on my report on “Our Common Agenda”.
And my thanks to you, Members of the General Assembly, for your rich and substantive engagement with the ideas in the report, during High-Level week, and in public and private meetings since then.
I was encouraged by the adoption of resolution 76/6, which is an important signal of your ownership of the follow-up process, starting with these consultations.
This series of thematic meetings is the first opportunity for an in-depth discussion between Member States on specific recommendations and ideas in the report.
They represent a clear recognition of the leading role of Member States, as we reflect together on how best to move forward, including on preparations for a proposed Summit of the Future.
A large number of the proposals in the report have strong existing mandates and frameworks stemming from Agenda 2030, the SDGs and their targets, the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and other intergovernmentally-agreed documents, most prominently the United Nations Charter and relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and ECOSOC.
There is no intention to duplicate or replace processes that are already delivering results. We must turbocharge our existing processes, so that they can rise to the more complex realities that we face.
Other proposals are simply put forward for consideration by Member States without the need for further action by myself or the Secretariat or the agencies.
But there are a number of proposals that require a clear direction and decisions by Member States, and considerable additional work by the United Nations system in support.
These include, among others, the Summit of the Future; the 2025 World Social Summit, reform of the international financial system; the Dialogue on Outer Space, the Global Digital Compact, the Emergency Platform, identifying complementary measures to GDP; establishing a joint structure on financial integrity and illicit financial flows; a Declaration on Future Generations and a forum to represent their interests through a repurposed Trusteeship Council or other means; the United Nations Youth Office; and General Assembly measures to address the territorial threats of climate change and responses to environmental displacement.
Ultimately, it must be our intention to make progress on the substance and the search for consensus as much as possible this year, so that Member States will have at their disposal a body of material that you can use in preparing for the proposed Summit of the Future in 2023. It is clear that both this Summit and the World Social Summit will be intergovernmental.
Another important contribution to your deliberations as Member States will be the findings of a High-level Advisory Board that I seek to establish. This will help us to identify global public goods and potentially other areas of common interest where governance improvements are most needed, and propose options on how this could be achieved, to be considered by Member States at the Summit of the Future.
I am very pleased to announce that Former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven have accepted my invitation to co-lead this Advisory Board.
When I presented Our Common Agenda report in September, at the request of this Assembly, I said the world faced a stark choice between a breakdown scenario of growing tensions, environmental degradation, climate chaos and instability, and a breakthrough towards a safer, more peaceful future.
Developments since then only served to reinforce the dangers of breakdown.
In January, I shared my concerns about the five-alarm fire threatening to engulf us.
COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc. The global financial system is failing most of humanity.
Inequalities are skyrocketing, undermining the implementation of the Sustainable Developments Goals. Species are disappearing faster than ever before. Climate action is too slow to avert catastrophe. Technology continues to drive us, rather than the other way around. And tensions between States are high and rising.
We are on a precipice – but we have the power to pull back from the brink. It is not too late to make the right decisions, particularly for those who are being left behind.
But we don’t have a moment to lose.
The well-being of people around the world, the health of our planet, and the survival of future generations depend on our willingness to come together around a commitment to collective problem-solving and action.
The preeminent agreement on which we need urgent action is the 2030 Agenda, our agreed blueprint for securing lives of peace, dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet, and putting sustainable and inclusive development at the centre of our common work.
With only eight years to go until 2030, and with COVID-19 driving us further off track, we must do everything in our power to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.
I therefore welcome your focus on these global covenants throughout the thematic consultations and, in particular, in these first two discussions.
The recommendations that I put forward in this area were developed in the context of slow progress on the SDGs between 2016 and 2020 and now set back even further by the dramatic and unequal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and an uneven economic recovery.
People who were already vulnerable are now even further behind. Communities that were struggling are now in survival mode.
Some 100 million more people have been pushed into extreme poverty. Over 160 million people have been added to those facing hunger.
We face the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression, with hundreds of millions of people out of work or underemployed, especially in the developing world, and feeling a deep sense of anxiety and insecurity for the future.
Young people have suffered serious setbacks to their learning, mental health and opportunities.
As always, women and girls are disproportionately affected, and gender inequality is, again. worsening.
And, with the financial system failing the global south, the divergence between developed and developing countries is becoming systemic.
Our Common Agenda is aimed at addressing this crisis head on, so that we can turbocharge the implementation of Agenda 2030, rescue the SDGs and get them back on track before it is too late.
It calls for a New Global Deal to ensure that power, wealth and opportunities are shared more broadly and fairly at the international level.
The New Global Deal, including the reform of the global financial system, should enable the international community to deliver global public goods and address major risks in a coordinated way. It should enable developing countries to focus their resources on sustainable and inclusive development.
The New Global Deal is intended to mobilize action to protect our climate, safeguard global public health, and reform the global financial system to build a global economy that works for all and not only for the richest.
Global financial governance is dominated by the richest economies today. Success is judged by narrow, short-term measures of profit and growth, divorced from other areas of international agenda-setting and decision-making.
I called in my Priorities speech last month for a complete overhaul of the global financial system, to include credit rating, the way Special Drawing Rights are issued, and the creation of an operational debt relief and restructuring framework, among other changes.
Metrics must go beyond Gross Domestic Product to include vulnerability and different risks that relate to climate and many others. Credit rating agencies must be accountable and transparent. This is one of the targets of SDG 17.
At the centre of the New Global Deal is my call for Biennial Summits between the G20, the Economic and Social Council, and the heads of International Financing Institutions, at the level of Head of State or government, strengthening the role of the United Nations as the main pillar of the multilateral system.
These Summits will align global financial decision-making around the 2030 Agenda and tackle questions of financing for sustainable growth, poverty reduction and resilience – key aims not just of SDG 17 on partnerships, but of all the SDGs that require increased investment, and of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
The New Global Deal aims at rebalancing power and financial resources, enabling developing countries to invest in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
This is our foundation for stable and peaceful societies and to create the conditions for the renewal of the social contract at the country level – a contract between Governments and people, and between people themselves, based on rights and opportunities for all and responding to SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 16.
There is no one-size-fits-all social contract.
All countries have different situations, and governments should define the nature and substance of their social contract according to their specific needs and priorities based on the principle of national ownership.
A renewed social contract should support the partnership between States, citizens and other stakeholders, increase participation, and build social cohesion, security and solidarity. By addressing discrimination and supporting gender equality, it should make a significant contribution to achieving SDG 10 on reducing inequalities.
And it should strengthen trust and bring to life the promise of the entire 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind.
Our Common Agenda proposes to Member States the convening of a World Social Summit in 2025, an intergovernmental process that should coordinate action and create momentum on a global scale towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and take stock of efforts to renew the social contract.
The World Social Summit will likewise be relevant to the same set of goals I highlighted - SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13 and 16.
Beyond the World Social Summit, a range of recommendations in my report can help strengthen the social contract and accelerate implementation of the SDGs.
Allow me to illustrate this as concretely as possible.
The ending of poverty in all forms everywhere is not just the objective of SDG 1, but the primary objective of the 2030 Agenda itself.
Many of our proposals in Our Common Agenda, including the New Global Deal and the renewal of the social contract, seek to advance progress towards this overriding objective.
The report also calls for social protection measures in every country, to reach the four billion people – more than half the world – who have no income insurance and live one step away from destitution.
But investment in social protection on this scale will only be possible with an effective reduction of inequalities between developed and developing countries that need substantial new resources.
This is why the report considers “a global economy that works for all” under the heading of global public goods.
But poverty is not only the absence of income.
The report calls for changes in how we judge progress and prosperity, including new metrics that value the life and wellbeing of the many over short-term profit for the few.
To advance SDG 2 on zero hunger, the report supports the transformation of food systems, in alignment with goals on health, climate and biodiversity. The Food Systems Summit and the creation of the Food Systems Coordination Hub in Rome were first steps towards achieving this and preventing the major increases in global hunger that have been projected because of the pandemic.
I am encouraged that more than 100 countries have already developed national food systems transformation pathways as recommended by the Summit.
To advance SDG 3, my report calls for mechanisms to manage health as a global public good.
These include a global vaccination plan to end the COVID-19 pandemic; and strengthening the independence, authority, and financing of the World Health Organization so that it can play a full role in pandemic preparedness and response.
The proposals for social protection, including universal health coverage, are also directly related to achieving SDG3.
To reverse the dramatic slide in global education and set us on track to achieve SDG 4, I intend to convene a Transforming Education Summit later this year. I will speak more in detail about it later.
My report proposes specific measures to achieve SDG5 on gender equality, for the consideration of Member States.
These include the repeal of all gender-discriminatory laws; the promotion of gender parity in all spheres and at all levels of decision-making; facilitating women’s economic inclusion; greater inclusion of the voices of younger women; and an emergency response plan to prevent and end violence against women and girls that is increasing dramatically today.
To support the achievement of SDG 7 for affordable and clean energy, and advance SDGs 6, 13, 14 and 15 on water, climate, the ocean and biodiversity, the report proposes a series of measures to protect the planet and deliver global public goods.
This includes an appeal for all countries to commit to the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and to a credible solidarity package of support to developing countries, in line with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
It calls for a global effort to ensure a just transition; for the implementation of carbon pricing mechanisms; for a strong post-2020 biodiversity framework; and for recognition of the right to a healthy environment.
I also urge Member States to identify global public goods where governance improvements are most needed to deliver on these goals.
The proposals for a New Global Deal aim to support a recovery from the pandemic that can give new life to SDG 8 on decent work and economic growth. Many of the report’s proposals to support young people will also help to achieve this goal. The new Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection is a central plank of these efforts.
I have urged the United Nations System, in particular the International Labour Organization, to make full use of this mechanism. I encourage Member States to join a High-level Coalition of countries to commit to investment in job creation in inclusive and sustainable development and, in particular, in the green and digital economies.
To accelerate progress on SDG 9 on industry and innovation, the report calls for greater flexibility in intellectual property rights, technology transfer, trade facilitation support and limits on the use of trade restrictions. It also calls for access to the Internet as a basic human right, and for steps to achieve this for everyone everywhere by 2030, including through the Giga initiative and the Transforming Education Summit.
Each of these recommendations, together with the New Global Deal and a renewed social contract, can advance progress towards SDG 10 on reducing inequalities within and between countries.
The report also places a major emphasis on social and economic participation, including proposals to boost the participation of young people in decision-making at all levels and in all areas.
To advance SDG 11 on cities and human settlements and deliver on the New Urban Agenda, I intend to create an Advisory Group on Local and Regional Governments, to help bring the SDGs to life in local and regional decision-making.
Finally, the report includes a series of proposals to deliver on the promise of SDG 16 to promote peaceful, inclusive societies and strong institutions. A new joint structure on financial integrity to tackle illicit financial flows, and measures to provide legal identity for all, are just two of these proposals.
Taken together, the report on Our Common Agenda aims to get the world back on track towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. Each proposal will promote progress across other goals, and indeed our broader pursuit of peace and human rights.
During these consultations, my colleagues from across the United Nations system stand ready to discuss these proposals with you in greater detail, as you requested in resolution 76/6.
Before concluding, however, allow me to highlight three issues at the heart of our commitment to leave no one behind, that require your urgent action.
First, the Transforming Education Summit to be held in September.
Even before the pandemic, over 260 million children were out of school, and half of all 10-year-olds in developing countries were unable to read a basic sentence.
Conventional education systems were struggling to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values needed to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Since 2019, millions of students have lost months, even years of learning. Some 350 million are still affected by school closures.
This learning crisis is a disaster first and foremost for the world’s young people and especially in developing countries.
But it also has very serious implications for the future of our societies. Without functioning education systems, we will not be able to meet the needs of labour markets, advance gender equality and human rights, or strengthen democratic institutions.
The Transforming Education Summit will seek to reignite our collective commitment to education and lifelong learning as a pre-eminent public good; to mobilize action and ambition to recover lost progress, reverse the slide on SDG4 on inclusive, equitable, quality education for all; and to promote a reimagining of education, generating momentum for innovation and accelerated progress between now and 2030.
The Summit will be the first time that world leaders, young people and all education stakeholders come together to consider these fundamental questions.
I have asked the Deputy Secretary-General to lead Summit preparations on my behalf, supported by a Summit Advisory Committee and an inter-agency Summit Secretariat, hosted by UNESCO.
I will also appoint a Special Adviser on the Summit in the coming weeks and Member States have primary responsibility to deliver on the right to education and so they will be involved in all steps of preparation of the Summit to make sure that the Summit is in line with the aspirations of Member States at the present moment.
I look forward to hearing your views on how we can maximize the impact of this important Summit.
Second, gender equality.
Women and girls are central to every social contract. Unfortunately, their specific needs and aspirations are largely ignored, and their work is routinely undervalued.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the unpaid care work, mainly done by women, that enables much of society to function.
It has also intensified a shadow pandemic of increased violence against women and girls.
I have therefore asked the Deputy Secretary-General to take the lead in reviewing the United Nations system’s capacity on gender, with the support of UN Women and UNFPA, and to ensure gender equality is at the core of everything we do.
I encourage Member States to use these consultations to consider our proposals and how inter-governmental processes can deliver better for half the world’s people.
The third area I would like to highlight concerns young people.
Among many recommendations on young people, Our Common Agenda proposes the establishment of an Office on Youth in the United Nations Secretariat.
The creation of a dedicated capacity focusing on young people, at the very heart of the United Nations, would have a meaning that goes far beyond its institutional significance.
It would make the entire United Nations system accountable in delivering for and with young people.
It would signal the transformation of the culture and outlook of the United Nations and send a strong message that young people are not only a top concern for our Organization, but a driving force within it.
It would also put the work currently being undertaken by my Youth Envoy on a more sustainable financial footing, enabling longer-term planning and perspectives, and increasing its effectiveness.
I stand ready to work with Member States to bring this proposal to life as soon as possible and I strongly encourage you to approve it.
I have put these ideas to you not because I think they will be easy to agree upon or implement, but because I believe they are essential steps at a moment when humanity faces very real risks.
The tight and ambitious timetable set by the President of the General Assembly reflects the urgency of the choices we face.
My senior team and I will share our thinking with you and listen attentively to your views, to guide our future efforts and interactions.
I wish you productive discussions to define priorities, to create momentum for progress where possible, and to identify areas for further consideration and deliberation where necessary.
Thank you very much.