What’s Going on at the Virtual UNGA This Year?

Ian MatthewsNews, News Around Global Health

The annual September meetings of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, and the myriad of side events that take place concurrently, are adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting a virtual format.

So, what’s happening at this year’s UNGA 75? Here’s a start to help you navigate through what will mostly be a virtual space, with minor exceptions.

The UNGA General Debate will be preceded by a high-level meeting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN on 21 September. The special event, themed The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism, will feature pre-recorded statements by heads of state and government.

The general assembly (22-26, 29 September) will consist of pre-recorded statements from country leaders, which will be introduced by a representative physically present in the UN Assembly Hall.

Other events planned during UNGA include the Summit on Biodiversity (30 September) and the High-level Meeting on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women (1 October), which will focus on ‘Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls’.

There will also be a few high-profile campaigns focused on achieving the SDGs, including Global Goals Week and Global Week to Act for SDGs, both taking place from 18-26 September. Global Goals Week, launched by Project Everyone, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the UN Foundation in 2016, is an annual week of action, awareness, and accountability for the SDGs. See their events calendar for a variety of SDG-focused events taking place during UNGA week. They also offer resources including communications toolkits.

Global Week to Act for SDGs focuses on encouraging actions in support of the SDGs. Actions can include conferences, demonstrations, petitions, campaigns, local actions, and more. See their website for ideas and toolkits for organizations and individuals as well as a global map of actions registered to date.

Another high-profile SDG-focused event is the SDG Action Zone which will feature broadcasts and online sessions focused on a variety of topics centered around the three core areas of People (including topics such as Healthy Societies, Inclusive Growth, Gender), Planet (including Food Systems and Sustainable Production), and Partnerships (including Multilateralism, Financing for Development and other topics).

The private sector’s role in achieving the SDGs will be highlighted during various events, including UN Global Compact’s Uniting Business Live, which will feature a Private Sector Forum, SDG Business Forum, and Global Impact Forum (the latter of which will showcase four key initiatives to mobilize corporate action on the Global Goals: SDG Ambition, Target Gender Equality, Young SDG Innovators, and Business Ambition for 1.5°C).

Other notable virtual events related to sustainable development are the International Conference on Sustainable Development (21-22 September), the Sustainable Development Impact Summit (21-24 September) hosted by the World Economic Forum, and Climate Week NYC (21-27 September), a series of events comprising panel discussions, concerts, exhibitions, seminars and more with both physical events in New York City as well as digital events from around the world, all focused on climate action.

There will also be a myriad of webinars from a variety of hosts taking place during the UNGA period. A few events relating to the role of business in responding to COVID-19 and achieving the SDGs are highlighted below, and we will continue to update this list as new events are announced:

COVID-19 lessons learned and the role of business in Building Back Responsibly (hosted by Business in the Community)21 Sept.
Business Fights Poverty Online 2020  21-25 Sept.
Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better: Resilient Supply Chains and Connectivity (hosted by UN ESCAP)25 Sept.
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data’s Fifth Anniversary Town Hall (hosted by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data)25 Sept.
Making the Invisible Visible: Driving Corporate Action on Gender Equality & Women’s Health for the Decade of Action29 Sept.
Global Solutions Forum (hosted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network)October TBD

For more on UNGA, follow us on Twitter and follow the conference hashtags #UNGA and #UNGA75.

Ian MatthewsWhat’s Going on at the Virtual UNGA This Year?