What’s What? The Significance of UN High-Level Week

Written by Gurleen Grewal

As we head into United Nations (UN) High-Level Week amidst the hum of protests, and the sea of global climate strikes there seems to be an ever-growing list of acronyms and events to unpack. But, fear not. BCCIC has put together a quick overview of the summits, dialogues, and reviews that will unfold beginning today, and culminate on Friday September 27th.

UN High-Level Week expands on talks about issues of global significance that occur each September when the 193 Member States of the UN gather at the General Assembly. This component of the UN meets to address matters of policymaking, and offers each country a vote as it attempts to reach consensus on decisions surrounding problems of peacekeeping, human rights, poverty, environment, and development. In fact, it was during the 2015 General Assembly that 93 Member States agreed to setting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to drive action on interconnected challenges such as climate change and gender inequality. The timeline that motivates the SDGs is the 2030 Agenda. It is a unified call to attention. One that asks the world to consider the futures it endorses and makes possible with each action or inaction. To reconvene and review progress on and impediments to the SDGs and 2030 Agenda, each year the UN conducts a High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). In the same agreement that produced the SDGs, countries also decided that every fourth year the HLPF would meet at the level of Heads of State and Government. This year marks the first occasion of this momentous meeting!

While, UN High-Level Week starts today with the Climate Action Summit and the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, it is the SDG Summit, which will take place from September 24th-25th, that takes center stage. Here, world leaders will come together to propose measures to galvanize the next decade of action on the SDGs, striving to ensure their achievement by 2030. Chaired by the President of the General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the SDG Summit seeks to round up further support for the SDGs, announce SDG Acceleration Actions, and adopt a political declaration that concedes the “need to do more and faster,” in the face of many impending crises that imperil social, environmental, and economic wellbeing. On September 26th, UN High-Level Week continues with the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development as well as the High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The week comes to a close with the High-Level Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway.

Over the course of the week, BCCIC will amplify the voices of youth delegates who attended this year’s first HLPF in July, sharing the insights they formed on topics such as climate financing, human rights, gender equity, and environmental treaties. As diplomats and activists, young and old, exhort world leaders to tune their ears to the din of mounting injustice by fortifying commitments to the 2030 Agenda with real plans, it becomes more and more difficult to ignore the voices that insist upon realizing a world of peace and prosperity, of cooperation with the planet.

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