The 74th annual session of the UN General Assembly kicks off next week in New York, with the participation of 152 presidents, kings, princes, three vice presidents and 36 heads of government, as well as hundreds of senior officials and diplomats from the 193 member states to discuss the most pressing issues and challenges.
Observers noted that this year's top-notch international forum will be launched with speeches from a group of “strong men” referring to Presidents of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro and US Donald Trump, and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will address the global climate change crisis, which will draw more attention to other leaders' plans such as Presidents of France Emmanuel Macron and Mexico Andres Manuel Obrador, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NGO’s pushing for practical steps to save the planet from the devastating effects of global warming.
The UN Secretary-General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change “emergency”.
“What I want is to have the whole society putting pressure on governments to understand they need to run faster. Because we are losing the race,” he warned.
Observers know that these two milestones in this year's UN General Assembly do not overshadow other global concerns, notably the international emergency crisis with Iran and its destabilizing role in the Middle East.
Tehran’s involvement in the attack on Aramco’s oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais marked a serious turning point in the Iranian threats to the global oil supply.
Speculation about a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and Iranian Hassan Rouhani quickly dissipated.
Guterres cautioned that tensions are boiling over and everyday people always pay the highest price, calling for cooling tensions, “and nowhere is that more important than in the Gulf.”
He also called for promoting dialogue “and pave the way to political solutions from Libya to Yemen, from Syria to Israel-Palestine, from Afghanistan to South Sudan.”
The Sec-Gen was speaking at the Peace Bell ceremony in New York marking International Peace Day, warning of the threat posed by climate change to peace in the world.
Peace is more than just the absence of war, noted Guterres, asserting that it is about respect, tolerance, and thriving societies in which people live in harmony with each other and with the environment.
“Our theme this year is exactly “Climate Action for Peace” because we know how much climate change threatens world peace.”
Climate Action Summit is only one of five major global summits, however, it is the most prominent.
Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at the Colombia University Karenna Gore indicated that there is good reason why most world leaders consistently identify it as the preeminent and central challenge for humanity in our time.
The Climate Action Summit begins on September 23, and is expected to be a forum to hold countries accountable to the international commitments they made to cut global warming as part of the 2016 Paris Agreement.
Karenna, daughter of former US Vice President Al Gore, told CBS News that although much is made of the Trump administration's announced withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, "technically the US is still in the agreement."
On Monday, the General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting on universal health coverage, themed “Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World.”
The meeting aims to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the UN Sustainable Development Summit to formally adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda. This momentous agenda will serve as the launchpad for action by the international community and by national governments to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the next 15 years.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
On September 26, the General Assembly will convene its first High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development since the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
It is estimated that annual investments of $5-7 trillion in all sectors are urgently needed to achieve these development goals.
On September 27, the General Assembly will hold a one-day high-level review of the progress made in addressing the priorities of small island developing States (SIDS) through the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.
The General Assembly has decided that the high-level 5-years review will result in "a concise action-oriented and inter-governmentally agreed political declaration"
Meanwhile, the world awaits President Trump's address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday where he’ll state his positions amid unprecedented escalating tensions with Iran, as well as other possible positions concerning the Middle East and the Arab world.
Trump is set to host a fundraising dinner, along with a photo opportunity, which can cost up to $250,000 each.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also spend a week at the United Nations where he will brief his counterparts on the results of his visit to Saudi Arabia after the Aramco attacks.
However, President Rouhani is not expected to come up with a meaningful initiative in his speech to world leaders, knowing that FM Zarif will meet with journalists on September 23.