Eight things to look out for this General Assembly

2021 remains a pivotal year to restore balance with nature, tackle the climate emergency, and get ahead of the pollution crisis, while ensuring no one is left behind. Global leaders will meet at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly from 20 September to participate in several high-level events to discuss the transformation and restoration needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The meetings will focus on some of today’s most urgent challenges, including the struggle to confront racism and discrimination; the ever-growing threat of climate change and biodiversity loss; and the need for renewable energy, and sustainable food systems.

Ahead of the organization’s most significant gathering of the year, the September edition of the Goal of the Month editorial looks at eight Sustainable Development Goals-related high-level events to look out for during the General Assembly.

All events will be streamed on UN Web TV live or pre-recorded.


The second SDG Moment will take place in advance of crucial summits on Food Systems and Energy during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week, as well as intergovernmental meetings in the final quarter of 2021, including the G20, the UN Climate Conference (COP26), the Global Sustainable Transportation Conference and the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15).

In the lead up to the General Assembly, the United Nations will launch the Keeping the Promise campaign – designed to inspire a global movement to drive better recovery and deliver the 2030 promise. The multilingual social media activation aims to start a global movement that will drive a better recovery and deliver the 2030 promise, encouraging participants from all sectors of society, to share how they plan to keep the promise.

The United Nations will mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the UN’s blueprint for concrete action to address racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, during the General Assembly. Taking place under the theme, Reparations, Racial Justice and Equality for People of African Descent, the high-level meeting will highlight the need to make amends for centuries of violence and discrimination. Learn more about the UN Human Rights Office’s efforts to fight racism.

The UN Food Systems Summit aims to deliver progress on all 17 SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty, and inequality. The Summit will bring together key players from the worlds of science, business, policy, healthcare, and academia, as well as farmers, indigenous people, youth organizations, consumer groups, environmental activists, and other key stakeholders.

Register here to get involved and subscribe to receive latest updates. A social media toolkit is available on a dedicated Trello board. More information is available in the media advisory. Check out the Summit’s informative podcast called Laying Down Tracks.

Credit: Interspecies Assembly Call, SUPERFLEX, 2021. Courtesy of SUPERFLEX and ART 2030.

During the high-level week, a nightly projection by art collective Superflex on the UN building will show a video of Sinophores, marine animals that function not as a single, physically connected body, but a colony of organisms that work in harmony to keep an underwater society alive. As such, the installation references UN General Assembly and the need for world leaders to work together as one for the well-being of the planet. Called Interspecies Assembly the artists also aim to bring a symbolic presence of other species to UNGA and highlight the need to protect nature and safeguard biodiversity.

The UN High-level Dialogue on Energy aims to mobilize commitments and action to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change. National, regional and city governments, businesses, NGOs, youth and other stakeholders have been asked to present Energy Compacts, setting out their voluntary commitments and concrete plans for achieving access to clean, affordable energy for all and net zero emissions.
A virtual SDG Media Zone will take place during the high-level week, featuring UN leaders and focusing on issues at the heart of the General Assembly, including climate action, food systems, renewable energy, biodiversity and more. All SDG Media Zone sessions are co-produced in partnership with the UN System and the media, including SDG Media Compact members.
The SDG Action Zone, a UN General Assembly flagship event, bringing together creatives, leaders, and activists from across gender, geography, and generations to engage in conversations and propose solutions to today’s most pressing issues – poverty and inequalities, gender, and climate.

Other events

The Global Week to #Act4SDGs is an annual mobilization for collective action on the SDGs. Held during the high-level week, the event convenes stakeholders from all sectors and regions to accelerate progress on the SDGs. As the world copes with the pandemic, the event aims to inspire people to use recovery as an opportunity to #TurnItAround for a healthy, just and green recovery, and keep the promise of the SDGs. A full set of resources are available on the website, along with a Toolkit of SDG actions and social media resources in multiple languages.

Global Goals Week features a week of action, awareness, and accountability for the SDGs. Every year, partners from civil society, business, academia, and the UN System come together to share opportunities to speak out as one voice, share ideas and transformative solutions in the fight to recover better from global challenges.