19 Sept 2019


Between 17 September and 2 October 2019, world leaders gathered at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to make decisions that will impact the future of our planet. 

The whole thing can get pretty complex, so we decided to break it down and go through this year’s agenda. 

23 September: UN Meeting on Universal Health Coverage 

This meeting was all in the name; a high-level meeting on universal health coverage that focused on the theme “Moving Together to Build a Healthier World.” The aim of this meeting was to get financial and political commitments from countries and sustain health investments. The focus? To accelerate progress towards universal health coverage. This included having access to essential health services, with a skilled health workforce. It also meant financial risk protection and access to safe, quality, effective and affordable medicines and vaccines for all. 

23 September: UN Climate Action Summit

This summit is the key reason that 20 September was chosen as the date for the Global Climate March. Just three days before the UN Climate Action Summit, millions marched the streets in over 120 countries to demand that world leaders attending this summit commit to effective climate action.

What’s the big deal?

At the UN Climate Action Summit, world leaders came together to discuss how the future of our planet hangs in the balance if we don’t make our economic, social and political systems more sustainable.

These leaders weren't just from governments; influential representatives from the private sector, civil society, local authorities and other international organisations worked together to solve the six biggest problems we need to address to tackle climate change. 

According to the UN, these are the big six:

1. Energy production

2. Sustainable cities

3. Food production

4. Protecting forests and oceans

5. Adapting to climate change

6. Establishing a zero carbon economy

Show me what you’ve got

The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, did his best to amplify the voices behind the Global Climate March. He called on all world leaders to leave grand speeches at home, and bring only their concrete plans to the UN Climate Action Summit.

Flags outside the United Nations
© Mathias Reding / Unsplash

24-25 September: UN Forum on Sustainable Development (SDGs)

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that cover just about everything we need to work on to make the world safe, sustainable and enjoyable for everyone. These global goals come with a set of targets that nations have committed to achieve by 2030. 

This was the first meeting to be held since the SDGs were adopted by all UN member states 2015, and many nations were not progressing as quickly as they had promised. 

This forum put international pressure on these states to strengthen their commitments to improve issues such as health, gender equality, economic growth and climate action. 

The SDGs are an interesting set of goals that is surprisingly comprehensive considering there are only 17 of them. See all of them here.

26 September: UN Dialogue on Financing for Development

This summit was all about developing a global financial framework, to align our current financial systems with economic, social and environmental priorities outlined in the SDGs. 

It’s clear in summing up these summits that there’s one thing they all have in common. Climate change is a vital issue relevant to every summit and has an impact on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It threatens the people, places and species we love. 

27 September: UN Review on Progress of the SAMOA Pathway

Not only was this summit especially interesting, it also wins ‘best acronym’ at this year’s UNGA. 

SAMOA stands for SIDS (Small Island Developing States) Accelerated Modalities of Action, and this summit was all about the sustainable development of small island developing states. 

This summit ws important because it recognised that small island developing states deal with challenges that many other nations do not have to face, like limited resources, economic isolation and increased vulnerability to climate change, natural disasters and sea level rise. 

Incredible communities and rich ecosystems call these islands home, and their continuity is at risk unless a broad alliance of people, governments, civil society and the private sector work together at summits like this one to tackle the challenges that these SIDS are facing.