Taking the pulse of the planet as the world gathers at the UN


Streets around UN HQ in Midtown Manhattan will be cordoned off, roadblocks erected, and security heightened and tightened, as world leaders gather to take the pulse of the planet during a week of high-level events and come together to tackle global challenges.

The 78th session of UNGA begins on 6 September and will be followed by a series of key meetings and summits on 18 September, not forgetting of course the General Debate where each Member State enjoys a global platform to focus on issues of international importance.

Here’s what to look out for at UNGA 78:

1. Taking the world’s pulse

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

UNGA 78 President Dennis Francis, from Trinidad and Tobago, will gavel open on 19 September the annual General Debate, where global leaders will discuss speeding up progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the theme Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity.

All UN Member States and observers have the right to deliver a speech in the storied General Assembly Hall and through 25 September, their representatives will present and explore solutions to myriad intertwined global challenges to advance peace, security, and sustainable development.

A custom established in 1955 at UNGA 10 carries on today, with Brazil taking the podium first, followed by the United States, as host country of UN Headquarters, and the entire UN membership.

Tune in live or visit our UN Meetings Coverage, where colleagues produce daily summaries in English and French.

2. Sustainable Development Goals – The SDG Summit

Students at a primary school in eastern Nigeria prepare await the beginning of class.

(c) UNICEF/Mackenzie Knowles-Cour

As the centrepiece of UNGA 78’s high-level week, the SDG Summit will be the central platform for Heads of State and Government to provide political leadership on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the wide-reaching global action plan focused on attaining the 17 SDGs.

Kicking off the high-level week, from 18 to 19 September, the SDG Summit aims to mark the start of a new era of progress towards the goals, which has slowed, culminating with the adoption of a forward-looking political declaration.

The 2030 Agenda is a promise, not a guarantee. The 2030 Agenda is now halfway through its life cycle (it was launched in 2015.) This promise is in grave danger. Development progress is facing the combined impacts of climate disasters, conflict, economic downturn, and lingering effects of COVID-19.

“The SDG Summit in September must be a moment of unity to provide a renewed impetus and accelerated actions for reaching the SDGs,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said.

The two-day event will serve as a rallying cry to recharge momentum. The SDG Summit will also provide high-level guidance, identify challenges and progress, and mobilize further action towards 2030. Climate justice: the movers, doers and leaders

UN news/Daniel Dickinson

On the 20th of September, world leaders will look to turn words into actions at the Climate Ambition Summit. A political milestone for walking the talk to tackle the ever-worsening climate crisis, the event will focus on three acceleration tracks: ambition, credibility, and implementation.

A UN staff member passes in front of a sign calling on world leaders to commit to 'bold, urgent climate action.'

The big issue: How best to move the world from emissions-producing fossil fuels to green, clean power.

The UN Secretary-General’s “to do” lists cite concrete actions needed from government, business, and finance leaders, from his Climate Action Acceleration Agenda to a guide to five critical actions the world must take to speed the shift to renewable energy.

“Now must be the time for ambition and action,” the UN chief has said. I look forward to meeting first-movers and doers during my Climate Ambition Summit. Learn more about the Climate Ambition Summit.

. Shaping a brighter post-pandemic world

(c) UNOCHA/Adedeji Ademigbuji

World leaders will consider the best road ahead, from bracing for future pandemics to building sustainable economies, with the overarching goal of improving the health of people and the planet.

Safer world

A baby is treated at a health centre in Nigeria.

: The UNGA President and the World Health Organization (WHO) will convene a meeting on pandemic preparedness for Heads of State and Government on 20. The leaders are expected to adopt an official declaration to mobilize political will on national, regional and international levels. Read more.

Health care for everyone

A meeting on universal healthcare

will be held on 21 September. The meeting will examine lessons learned from COVID-19 and make evidence-based suggestions to accelerate progress toward health care for everyone by 2030. Click here to learn more.Walking The Talk: On 20 September, also, a high level dialogue on financing development will provide guidance and political leadership on the implementation 2015 Addis Ababa action agenda, a UN framework to mobilise resources for the SDGs. The meeting will also identify the progress made and new challenges, as well as possible ways to achieve further success. Learn more here.Tackling TB epidemic

: A high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis will take place on 21 September with the key objective of implementing a review of progress in the context of the achievement of targets set in the 2018 political declaration, and in the SDGs. Here’s more information.5. The Summit of the Future: Getting ready

(c). UNICEF/Vinay PanjwaniAt a ministerial gathering on the 21st of September, delegates will lay the foundations for the Summit of the Future in September 2024. Ministers will discuss the ways in which the multilateral system could address global challenges and risks, and make concrete and ambitious proposals for strengthening and transforming the global system. Learn more about this preparatory meeting.