New York

13 September 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at Opening Plenary Meeting of the Seventy-First Session of the General Assembly [as delivered]

It is a great pleasure to join you for the opening of the 71st session of the General Assembly.  

I congratulate most sincerely His Excellency Mr. Peter Thomson of Fiji for assuming this very important office of the presidency.

Mr. President, Fiji is on the frontlines of many key issues on the international agenda, from climate change to disaster risk reduction to promoting growth and prosperity for all.  Your country’s perspectives will certainly enrich our deliberations in the months ahead.

I welcome the theme you have chosen for this session. The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world.

This first year is crucial.  It is a time when all Member States should align their policies, programmes and spending behind the 17 goals.  It is also a time to bring the Paris Agreement on climate change into force.  The high-level event I am hosting on 21 September will strengthen momentum for achieving that objective this year.

The Habitat III conference next month in Quito, Ecuador, will be a further opportunity.

I look forward to hearing your strong voice across our agenda.  

The Assembly begins work in earnest on Monday with a Summit on the plight of refugees and migrants. 

And of course, on January 1, 2017, the 71st session will welcome the ninth Secretary-General into these halls and conference rooms.  Mr. President, you will serve as a bridge between my administration and the next, as you said in your acceptance speech.  You will have my full support, and that of my team, in ensuring a seamless transition.

The Assembly will be called upon to address many threats, and to show its solidarity with people facing injustice.  People also look to this body not just to react to problems, but to work proactively and preventively to better the human condition.  

Mr. President, I know you have been undertaking wide-ranging consultations in preparation for the duties you now assume.  The Secretariat and I look forward to working closely with you towards a session that produces meaningful results for all.

I count on your strong leadership and I thank you very much.