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4 Key Things to Look Out for After UNGA 2023 Towards the 2030 Sustainable Agenda


Image: People stand outside the United Nations ahead of its General Assembly. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters


The 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) concluded on October 2, 2023, after a week of high-level meetings and debates on various global issues. The UN General Assembly is the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the UN, where all 193 member states have equal representation and voice. 


UNGA is also a crucial platform for advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a global plan of action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure peace and prosperity for all. The UNGA reviews the progress and challenges of implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and adopts resolutions and decisions to accelerate their achievement. 


Here are some of the key outcomes and implications of this year's session, along with some sources for further reading:


- The UNGA adopted a resolution on strengthening multilateralism and the role of the UN in the face of rising challenges such as climate change, pandemics, terrorism, cyberattacks and human rights violations. The resolution reaffirmed the commitment of member states to uphold the UN Charter, international law and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and called for enhanced cooperation, dialogue and solidarity among nations. 


- The UNGA held a special summit on climate action, ahead of the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November. The summit aimed to mobilize political will and ambition to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The summit featured statements from world leaders, civil society representatives, youth activists and experts, who highlighted the urgency and scale of the climate crisis and the need for concrete actions and solutions. 


- The UNGA also convened a high-level meeting on COVID-19 recovery, focusing on how to build back better from the pandemic and to ensure equitable access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. The meeting stressed the importance of strengthening global health systems, enhancing preparedness and resilience, addressing the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic and ensuring universal health coverage. The meeting also endorsed the establishment of a UN Global Health Threats Council, a new mechanism to coordinate and oversee the global response to health emergencies. [Source: WHO] (https://www.who.int/news/item/02-10-2023/un-general-assembly-endorses-un-global-health-threats-council)


- The UNGA hosted a dialogue on digital cooperation, exploring how to harness the potential of digital technologies for sustainable development, human rights and peace, while addressing the risks and challenges posed by digital divides, misinformation, cybercrime and cyberwarfare. The dialogue emphasized the need for a people-centered, inclusive and multistakeholder approach to digital governance, based on shared values and principles. 


The 78th UN General Assembly was a significant opportunity for the international community to address the multiple and interrelated crises facing the world today, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the climate emergency. It also demonstrated the vital role of the UN as a platform for dialogue, cooperation and action, as well as the importance of multilateralism and solidarity in achieving the common goals of humanity. This General Assembly adopted several resolutions and decisions that reflect the collective will and vision of the member states, and that provide guidance and direction for the future work of the UN and its partners. However, UNGA 78’ also highlighted the gaps and challenges that remain in translating words into deeds, and in ensuring that no one is left behind in the pursuit of peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.


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