UN General Assembly — Five summits to follow

By Jasper Morris and Marie Zaragoza

On September 17th, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) began its 74th Session in New York City. During their opening remarks, both President of the UNGA Tijjani Muhammad-Bande and UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke about the importance of collaboration across sectors and transparency throughout the meetings next week. As the General Assembly shifts its focus towards issue areas and engages in high-level General Debate starting on Monday, there are five key summits that the world will be tuning in to: Climate Action, Universal Health Coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Financing for Development (FfD), and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Climate Action

On Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres will lead a Climate Summit, in which governments, the private sector, civil society, local authorities, and other international organizations will convene to discuss key issue areas surrounding climate change. Holding steady to agreements made in the 2015 Paris Agreements, the Summit has laid out six areas of discussion, primarily focusing on a global transition to renewable energy. Guterres has asked governments to come prepared with detailed and concrete plans rather than hopeful messages for the future; in a statement to member countries he remarked, “I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.” 

Universal Health Coverage

Also on Monday, the UNGA will meet on the topic of Universal Health Care, the first-ever High-Level meeting on the topic. Lead by the tagline “Moving Together To Build a Healthier World,” the UNGA hopes that this forum will usher in a new era of health coverage, an area in dire need of an overhaul as health costs push millions into extreme poverty each year.  All countries have committed to working towards universal health coverage by 2030, with the hope that this meeting will take the necessary first steps towards accomplishing that goal.


On September 24th and 25th, the UNGA will discuss the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in 2015. While the SDGs were set with the year 2030 in mind, the UN is worried that climate change, conflict, growing financial gaps, and inequality among nations pose major threats towards achieving the SDGs. The SDG summit is a way for the UN to check-in on each country’s progress and reevaluate global commitment towards sustainability, ending world hunger, achieving steady economic growth, and more.    

Finance and Development

Bringing together leaders from government, business, and the financial sector, the UNGA’s High-Level Dialogue on Finance for Development will begin on September 26th. Maintaining financing continues to be a problem for the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda; with trillions of dollars still needed, the UNGA and Secretary-General are taking the necessary steps towards ensuring partnerships and the resources needed for future sustainable improvement.


Small Island Developing States continue to be among the most vulnerable countries in the world. Their size and remoteness, as well as their susceptibility to economic shocks and environmental changes, make their development unique and extremely difficult to sustain. Next Friday, September 27th, governments, the private sector, and other academic advisors will meet with the focus of implementing priority areas of the SDGs. Acknowledging the agreements made in the SAMOA Pathway, the first agreements made with regards to SIDS, the UNGA will look towards establishing new partnerships that tackle the impact of climate change, work towards economic adaptability, and more. 

Read more about these upcoming Summits on the UN’s website and look out for daily reports from GPI all next week as these meetings and debates play out. Interested in learning more? We suggest the following read:

Take a look at how the “New General Assembly President brings ‘valuable insights’ into key UN challenges” here.

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