During the UN General Assembly high-level week, from 21 to 27 September, world leaders will gather at the Organization’s headquarters to signal how they will boost action to respond to the climate emergency and ensure the health and wellbeing of people, everywhere. Four years after breakthrough international agreements on climate change and sustainable development, the stakes are high: 

  • We are not yet on track to end poverty by 2030 and world hunger is on the rise, with some 821 million people experiencing undernutrition in 2017. 
  • Green-house gases continue to climb. Every bit of warming matters and every day we delay action will make it more difficult to limit global warming to 1.5°C and avert the worst impacts of climate change. 
  • The world’s most vulnerable are bearing the brunt of conflict, inequality, injustice and environmental degradation – 70 million people fled war, persecution and conflict in 2018; at least half the world’s population do not have access to essential health services; and some 29.3% of the population of small island states live at less than five meters above rising sea-levels.

Action is being taken to address these challenges. Investment in inclusive and sustainable economies can unleash significant opportunities for shared prosperity. Political, technological and financial solutions are within our reach. But much greater leadership and rapid, unprecedented changes are needed to realize the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. .

Bringing together leaders from governments, private sector, civil society and international organizations — the high level week will help generate the ambition and the impetus needed to kickstart a decade of ambitious action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Read more about the events in the featured story on DESA Voice.

“This month, world leaders will gather in New York for a week of critical meetings to accelerate action for sustainable development, including the Climate Action Summit and the SDG Summit. I have asked leaders to announce concrete plans of action that can boost global ambition. … If we want our planet to remain the same – healthy and able to support prosperity and opportunity for all — we will have to completely transform our world. I count on leaders everywhere to heed this call and rise to the challenge of their 2015 promise to deliver a sustainable future for this and future generations.”

Read more in UN DESA Voice.


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Secretary-General António Guterres will host the Youth Climate Summit in the lead up to his Climate Action Summit. He has invited young activists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers from around the world to participate, bringing their climate solutions and joining discussions with leaders attending the Climate Action Summit.

The UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit aims to increase ambition and accelerate action by countries and other stakeholders, including the private sector. The Summit will demonstrate that we have the knowledge and tools to address climate change and provide the impetus for stronger national climate plans.

Climate Action Summit Overview

Universal health coverage is primarily the responsibility of governments, ensuring people’s health as a social contract, and leaving no one behind. The meeting will be the biggest opportunity to secure political commitment from world leaders to prioritize and invest in universal health coverage and ensure health for all.


The Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for the transition to a healthier planet and a more just world — for present and future generations. The SDG Summit is the first UN Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals since the adoption of the landmark 2030 Agenda in 2015. It will be a critical opportunity to accelerate progress on the 17 Goals and their targets.

SDG Summit Overview

The meeting will bring together leaders from government, business and the financial sector, among others, to help unlock the resources and partnerships needed. It aims to mobilize action at all levels and generate high-impact initiatives for financing the 2030 Agenda.

Read more in UN DESA Voice.


The meeting will assess the status of implementation of the SAMOA Pathway agreement – which was adopted in Apia, Samoa in 2014 to recognize that genuine and durable partnerships play a crucial role in advancing the sustainable development of small island developing states (SIDS). The unique challenges facing SIDS will also feature prominently in the other summits. 

Please note that the international agreement stands for Small island developing states Accelerated Modalities of Action.

Read more in UN DESA Voice.


For the fourth year in a row, the SDG Media Zone will bring transformative ideas and change-making initiatives to audiences at the United Nations and around the world.

During the high-level week, the SDG Media Zone will host impactful, dynamic and in-depth conversations with decision-makers, influencers and media partners – live-streamed on UN WebTV and promoted by partnering media organizations. Conversations will focus on the main themes of the week – the Sustainable Development Goals, climate action, universal health coverage, financing for development, and Small Island Developing States.

The SDG Media Zone will be located on the UN Visitors’ Plaza. The full programme is available on the SDG Media Zone website.

Bertrand Piccard: Taking Innovation to a Higher Altitude

They said it was impossible to produce enough energy from the sun to power an airplane. But UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador Bertrand Piccard did it. And he flew that plane around the world. It took a larger wingspan, a lighter aircraft, and a commitment to showing how protecting the environment does not have to reduce quality of life. Bertrand joined ClimateBiz to discuss his Solar Impulse Foundation and how it builds on the success of the solar plane to scale up 1,000 profitable, innovative climate solutions. For more climate related podcasts, click here.

Other High-level Events

The UN General Assembly will mark the anniversary to celebrate the meaningful milestones and successes of the Convention – which has been ratified by 195 countries since its adoption in 1989, making it the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history.

The UN General Assembly will hold a high-level event to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – one of the oldest goals of the organization.

Upcoming Reports

10-11 September | Global Sustainable Development Report

Four years after the adoption of the landmark Sustainable Development Goals, efforts to promote prosperity and well-being for all people while protecting the environment are not on track, and there is even the danger that many of the progress over the last two decades could be reversed.  However, according to the 2019 Global Sustainable Development report, science can guide us toward making the transformations that are needed to get back on track.

17 September | International Migrant Stock 2019

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) will issue its latest global estimates of the number of international migrants for all countries and areas of the world on 17 September. Updated every two years, these authoritative estimates contain data on international migrants disaggregated by age, sex, country of origin and country of destination. In 2017, there were 258 million international migrants in the world, representing 3.4 per cent of the global population. Stay tuned to find out what the latest tally is and what it says about people on the move today.

24 September |  Global Action Plan for healthy lives and well-being for all

A joint initiative of 12 global health organizations, the Global Action Plan is a historic commitment by global health and development agencies to advance collective action and accelerate progress towards the health-related targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

25 September | IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

This report assesses physical processes and impacts of climate change on ocean, coastal, polar and mountain ecosystems. It also assesses consequences for human communities and options for people to adapt to climate-related changes for a more sustainable future.

September | Greening the Blue Report

The UN will be releasing the results of the “Greening the Blue” report showing the progress that the Secretariat and Agencies, Funds and Programmes that make up the UN system have made over several years to promote sustainability.