New York City in the second half of September is now a two-week festival that attracts all those who tackle global challenges.
Often it is about seeing and being seen.
Here’s where celebrities can take an easy stand, without crossing domestic partisan political lines. Everyone from Korean megastar BTS to American actors like Matt Damon and Goldie Hawn uses UNGA as a platform for their own reasons.
What was once the chance for national leaders to deliver a speech on a global stage or hold the ear of the US president in the aisle is now the late-summer version of Davos, but bigger.
“When I first came to the UNGA in the 1990s it was very sterile. Produced speech after speech. Today it is the opposite of sterile, this is where global ideas are tested,” European Investment Werner Hoyer, the bank’s president, said.
It doesn’t cost $50,000 per person to reach UNGA – as does the World Economic Forum – and New York shopping for the wives of dictators is better. It’s no surprise that UNGA has become the WEF on steroids.
Like the WEF’s main forum, the official UNGA program of leaders’ speeches is often now a sideshow.
In the shadow of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, and without the world’s most powerful authoritarian leaders on show, 2022 is sure to happen.
This year’s speeches may be no worse than the fully remote 2020 UNGA – which turned into a 30-hour video call – but will still be “very useless”, said UN process expert Richard Govan, who heads the International Crisis Group. Head of the United Nations Office. ,
In part, that’s because leaders don’t listen to each other’s speeches—and they address their comments to home audiences. “Once the POTUS is gone, you have the president and prime minister talking to the diplomatic equivalent of two men and a dog,” Govan said.
Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, which invests more than any other NGO in UN-backed health and social campaigns, has this week a wake-up call for everyone visiting Manhattan.
,Rich countries get distracted. Not a lot of attention,” Suzman told Politico, explaining the lack of progress on major global equity programs. ,[We’re]Seriously off to the vast majority of SDGs.”
too big, and fail
Many participants this week doubt that UNGA is well equipped to get the world back to work.
“UNGA has become a gabfest”, said David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. “Let us not lose sight of the legitimacy and authority and responsibility attached to nations. If the multilateral system doesn’t work, everything else is making up for it,” he told Politico.
Former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations, Louise Blass, agrees that the UNGA is falling short of its potential. “Giving civil society a voice is important,” she said, but “trying to cram as much as possible” means the UNGA “has a poor track record in helping achieve the SDGs.”
Blass said the UNGA is becoming unbearable for many organisations, even large governments.
During his tenure as ambassador from 2017 to 2021, he said 40-50 Canadian diplomats were assigned to work through a 50-page spreadsheet of invitations to 400 to 500 events during the UNGA, deciding whether As for whether a Canadian officer should be sent.
Zia Khan, senior vice president of innovation at the Rockefeller Foundation, says UNGA tends to focus on the right problems, but both UN internal and external activists often fail to marry their strengths. “There is a disconnect between entrepreneurs who innovate and institutions at large,” he said.
“A lot of social entrepreneurs are having a tough time getting on the scale. They’re adventurous and persuasive, but it’s like trying to change the way people eat cheese by setting up a hipster cheese shop in Brooklyn. You don’t have to go to the big grocery store.” Will have to go in chains,” Khan said.
The counterpart of those big chains are UNGA, the Gates Foundation and GAVI, global non-profit organizations such as the Vaccine Alliance.
The United Nations increasingly depends on these outside organizations to respond to global challenges, and the UNGA crowd has taken cues.
it is more important to show Gates Foundation Goalkeepers Report launched or week-long programs like Goals House – a meeting point organized by the consultancy Freud that pops up at global events throughout the year – rather than hanging around with health and development officials from national governments.
And big business is getting done on this act, too. Earlier most donors were seen as – UNICEF raises about $2 billion every year from private sources – Corporations have expanded their role to be sources of ideas and partners in major United Nations events.
Microsoft is “strategic principal sponsor” of COP27 climate summit Scheduled for November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The company also opened a new United Nations office in mid-September, larger than many of the United Nations embassies—the walnut-paneled one on the 34th floor of a skyscraper in front of the United Nations Headquarters in central Manhattan.
Microsoft executives say they are focused on harnessing their cohesive power to drive the massive change that the company has made to software and other digital markets to the global challenges.
“Yesterday, we had the President of the General Assembly here set out his plan to take us to the SDG Summit next year. We had the Deputy Secretary-General in the evening before to talk about the importance of data and sustainable development. In the first three days after opening, it looks like we’re having some really important conversations,” said Chris Sharrock, Microsoft’s vice president for United Nations Affairs and International Organizations.
‘A giant petri dish’
The Fringe Festival surrounding UNGA is a victim of its own success.
“We all know this is complete shitshow,” said one executive of a global philanthropic organization, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media. “But that’s also how it keeps growing: We try to do as much as possible to avoid shitshoe, but we keep expanding it,” she said.
“It’s a giant petri dish where everyone is clashing, but to really get something done, you need a plan and a deadline after the UNGA discussion is over,” Khan said.
Sharrock agrees. “Given the scale of the truly difficult global challenges, it is not fair to pretend that you can deliver a solution in a week,” he said.
If there is one concept that inspires UNGA goers it is participation: “People want to look smart at the UNGA. I always hear ‘we need more partnerships,’ and ‘we have to break the silos,'” ” Khan said.
He added that greater partnerships don’t automatically mean greater success in limiting climate change or ensuring a fair pandemic response, “but a silo approach helps people focus the time, attention, and resources on getting something done.” is,” he said.
Rena Greifinger, who heads experiential philanthropy at PSI, a health care nonprofit, and managing director of Maverick Collective, a community of women philanthropists, takes a different view. “It is a week for coordination. It is often not the lack of resources, it is the lack of coordination that catches us,” she said.
“This week has become a recognition that there is a greater ecosystem of people, and that it takes a variety of players to reach the UN’s global goals and create systemic change,” Grefinger said.
as soon as the leaders $1,400 per night hotel To receive awards for improving food security, and as crystal statues and video tributes are hoisted over heads of state and government who have been forced to resigneither was murderedIt’s worth considering whether more systemic change needs to start at home.
But they will always have New York.