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Sep 14, 2021

UN Secretary-General unveils Vision for Future-Oriented UN

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Image: Reuters
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Image: Reuters

“Global governance may sound lofty or abstract; it is not,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, presenting his report to the UN General Assembly on September10, 2021.

The ‘Our Common Agenda’ report responds to the 12 commitments in the political declaration in ways that also accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.

The UN Secretary-General has issued a report on how to secure a breakthrough for humanity through a series of choices to avert a historical breakdown of societies, and instead realize a “greener, safer, better” future.

The ‘Our Common Agenda’ report proposes actions to advance the 12 commitments made by world leaders in September 2020, at the UN’s 75th anniversary.

The UN issued the report in response to a mandate in the political declaration adopted by Heads of State and Government on the occasion of the UN’s 75th anniversary, in September 2020.

In the Declaration, Member States recognize that while there have been many achievements in the past 75 years, the world envisaged by the UN’s founders 75 years ago has not yet been realized: it is plagued by growing inequality, poverty, hunger, armed conflicts, terrorism, insecurity, climate change, and pandemics; people are forced to make dangerous journeys in search of refuge and safety; the LDCs are falling behind; and complete decolonization has not been achieved.

Further, Member States recognize that global challenges are interconnected and can only be addressed through reinvigorated multilateralism, as demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. They agree that multilateralism is not an option but a necessity, to build back better for a more equal, more resilient, and more sustainable world, with the UN at the center of efforts. They also recognize that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is necessary for survival.

To develop concrete ideas on taking forward the 12 commitments were launched by the UN.

The Secretary-General presented the resulting report to UN Member States in an informal plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly. 

The United Nations headquarters in New York. VOA Photo

Introducing the UN Secretary-General’s presentation, the outgoing UNGA President Volkan Bozkir said “the best laid plans are mere paper unless they are sufficiently resourced;” stressing that the UN must equip itself to face challenges today and in the future.

He also expressed hope that the UNGA could apply the organization-wide “reset” outlined in the report to the workings of the General Assembly as well.

The report presents ‘Our Common Agenda,’ which responds to the 12 commitments in the political declaration in ways that also accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. UN Chief Guterres presented four overarching areas for action described in Our Common Agenda naming strengthening global governance, focus on the future, renewing social contracts and ensure a UN fit for a new era.

In addition, all UN agencies will be asked to establish a dedicated focal point to create space for civil society. The report notes that civil society’s role must go beyond consultation and advocacy, to direct inclusion in the work of all parts of the UN system.

Guterres concluded his presentation by observing that “global governance may sound lofty or abstract. It is not.” Regarding the question of whether humanity will experience a breakdown or breakthrough, he said, “The choice is ours to make; but we will not have this chance again.”