Secretary-General, at General Assembly Consultation on Our Common Agenda, Says Strong Engagement Key to Create Effective Multilateralism for addressing Today’s Challenges

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the General Assembly consultation on Our Common Agenda, in New York today:

We have just emerged from the high-level week of the seventy-eight General Assembly.  Global leaders attended not only the main session, but the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit, the Climate Ambition Summit and dozens of other events. I personally held 141 bilateral meetings.  Throughout the week, I listened to the soundtrack of the state of our world.

And despite the extraordinary challenges we face, I was encouraged.  Without exception, leaders spoke of the importance of multilateral solutions.  But leader after leader told me that our current multilateral institutions are not delivering — and called for reform.  There was strong criticism of the mismatch between the institutions of global governance, and the economic and political realities of our world.  There was deep concern about the state of the planet and the climate we are leaving to young people and future generations.

And [there were] repeated calls for new guidelines and guardrails for new technologies.  In short, the common themes that emerged from high-level week are the themes of Our Common Agenda.  Since my report two years ago, Member States have discussed, debated, and refined these ideas more than 50 times.

I thank the co-facilitators, and particularly Germany and Namibia, for their successful efforts to bring us to this point.  I welcome the important steps you have all taken together, to guide the recommendations from the pages of the report towards implementation at the global level.

The General Assembly’s definition of the scope of the Summit of the Future sets the scene for the meaningful and important decisions ahead.  I am encouraged that the SDG Summit Declaration welcomes the Summit of the Future as an important opportunity to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The proposals and ideas in Our Common Agenda are bridges across the aspiration gap; between the world as it is and the world as we know it can be.  The world set out in the UN Charter, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Some of the major proposals set out in Our Common Agenda will be taken up at the Summit of the Future next year, including the New Agenda for Peace, reform of the global financial architecture, and the Global Digital Compact.  The ministerial meeting during high-level week showed that Member States are highly engaged around these issues.  This bodes well for meaningful decisions at the Summit.

Many ideas fall under existing mandates and are already being implemented by the United Nations system with Member States and partners.  These come under four main headings, and you will find more details on each area in the written update.

First, Our Common Agenda calls for a renewal of the social contract, anchored in human rights and based on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.  This is essentially the action of Governments in each country, but we are ready, and we are helping Governments to strengthen the social contract and restore trust through the action we are taking to increase the capacity of the public sector; to create decent jobs in the green and digital economies; to eliminate violence against women and girls; and develop common digital infrastructures ‒ and more.

We are also providing practical tools to support Member States’ efforts to promote human rights and build strong and resilient institutions.  The high-impact initiatives set out at the SDG Summit will enable us to step up our activities.

Second, Our Common Agenda recognized our responsibilities to the young people and future generations who stand to benefit — or suffer ‒ from today’s policies and decisions.  In the past two years, we have seen young people around the world step into their power — from girls who refuse to accept their banishment from school, to students taking legal action to protect our climate and our planet.

We intend to harness this energy and creativity through our new Youth Office, which should be fully staffed and operational by the end of this year.  I hope that by this time next year, global governance will be more attuned and accountable to these two important groups.

Third, Our Common Agenda emphasized the need to transform the mechanisms of global governance so that they meet today’s needs. There are signs of new momentum for adapting intergovernmental decision-making to today’s realities, from the General Assembly to the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. Discussions are under way on strengthening global governance in areas including health, the environment, outer space and digital cooperation.

Our proposals for deep reforms to the international financial architecture are gaining traction from Bridgetown to Paris and New Delhi and by the SDG Summit.  We intend to take these ideas forward at the meetings in Marrakech, at COP28, and at the Summit of the Future.

Finally, within the UN system, we are taking important steps to transform how we work.  My policy brief on UN 2.0 sets out our plans to update our culture and skills across five areas ‒ the quintet of change.

Last month, I launched a new Scientific Advisory Board, connecting many of the world’s most eminent scientists and their networks with UN leaders.  The UN Futures Lab will leverage long-term foresight across the system.  We are also increasing engagement with other important stakeholders, from civil society to parliamentarians and the private sector.

As part of these efforts, I will launch my Advisory Board on Local and Regional Governments in the coming days.  I will also appoint a High-Level Advisory Body on Artificial Intelligence later this month, to provide recommendations on governance by the end of the year.

The world has changed in the two years since the report was issued.  Today’s update shows that the international community has also changed.  Despite deep divisions, we have made progress.  Recent decisions and discussions show a sense of common purpose around Our Common Agenda.

The next year of preparations for the Summit of the Future will be critical.  The co-facilitators of the Summit, to be appointed by the President of the General Assembly, will have my full support and the full support of the Secretariat.

Let me be clear.  The decisions that emerge at the Summit will be taken through an intergovernmental process, but of course, the United Nations system will be fully mobilized throughout the year to provide support.  We will also work to activate civil society, the private sector and the general public to provide inputs into this once-in-a-generation Summit.

The series of policy briefs on the proposals of Our Common Agenda, and the report of the High-Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism, are already at your disposal.  Our preparations, activities and advocacy around the SDG Summit provide a successful model for our engagement around the Summit of the Future.

Together, we have already taken significant steps towards the inclusive, effective, networked multilateralism that our circumstances demand. I thank every Government and leader that has played a part and count on your continued strong engagement and support.

For information media. Not an official record.