Published: 24 Sep 2020

The 75th Session of the UN General Assembly opened on 15 September 2020. Numerous actors from international Geneva will provide expertise and actively participate in various events this year again.

About

For the first time, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) will convene world leaders in a virtual format to seek action and solutions for a world in crisis. All events will take place mostly virtually, broadcast live and on-demand on UN Web TV.

In parallel to the Assembly, environment-related events are scheduled, providing an opportunity for leaders to discuss environmental issues.

UN 75: The Future We Want, the UN We Need

The UN will mark its 75th anniversary (UN 75) with a one-day high-level meeting at the opening of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 75), on 21 September, under the theme, “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”.

High-level Roundtable on Climate Action

The High-level Roundtable on Climate Action convened by the UN Secretary-General on 24 September at 17:30 CEST, will showcase high-impact solutions by governments and real economy leaders, in line with the Secretary-General’s six climate-positive actions to recover better together. The event will highlight the vast social and economic benefits of a sustainable recovery and of action to limit global warming to 1.5°C by achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ensure that people and planet are fully protected from climate change impacts. This Roundtable will also jump-start an ambition arc that will take us to the Fifth Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on 12 December, when governments are expected to present ambitious and quality climate plans (the Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs – and Long-Term Strategies), all the way to COP26 in November 2021.

SDG Moment

Convened by the UN Secretary-General, the first SDG Moment of the Decade of Action was held virtually on Friday, 18 September 2020 from 8 to 11:30 a.m:

  • Setting out a vision for a Decade of Action and recovering better from COVID-19
  • Providing a snapshot on SDG progress
  • Highlighting plans and actions to tackle major implementation gaps
  • Demonstrating the power and impact of action and innovation by SDG stakeholders

UN Summit on Biodiversity

The Summit on Biodiversity will take place on 30 September, in New York. In resolution A/RES/73/234, adopted in 2018, the UNGA decided “to convene a summit on biodiversity at the levels of Heads of State and Government.”

The theme of the Summit is “Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development“.  As the end of the UN Decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020 is approaching, research shows that biodiversity is declining globally at unprecedented rates in human history. For instance, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019) stressing that “75% of the land surface is significantly altered, 66% of the ocean area is experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85% of wetlands (area) has been lost.” The recent Living Planet Report 2020 (10 September 2020, WWF) underlines that “the population sizes of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have seen an alarming average drop of 68% since 1970.” Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the relationship between people and nature, calling for urgent action on biodiversity conservation. Moreover, The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 (GBO-5) (15 September 2020, Convention on Biological Diversity) stresses that we have not met the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to halt biodiversity loss and protect ecosystems. However, we can still act and change course through the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

The Summit will give momentum to the development and the eventual adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15), scheduled in 2021. The post-2020 biodiversity framework will define the targets, the means and the mechanisms to assess the progress, in order to accelerate action on biodiversity for sustainable development.

The Summit on Biodiversity will consist of an opening segment, a plenary segment for general discussion aiming to highlight the connections between biodiversity, societies and economies, two leaders’ dialogues, and a closing segment. The first leaders’ dialogue will be on biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development and the second on harnessing science, technology and innovation, capacity-building, access and benefit sharing, financing and partnerships for biodiversity.

The Run Wild campaign, jointly driven by UNEP in cooperation with adidas Runtastic aims to represent the interests of threatened species at the UN General Assembly Biodiversity Summit. The challenge, taking place from 25 September to 4 October, will permit to increase awareness for biodiversity loss and the need to protect our wildlife – with an ambitious goal to engage 1 million runners, symbolizing 1 million species threatened by extinction.

Organizations around the world have made various calls to urge action for nature from Heads of State and Government, ahead of the Biodiversity Summit:

  • Business for Nature’s Call to Action: 560 companies are calling on governments to take actions to reverse nature loss by 2030.
  • Development and humanitarian civil society’s Call to Action: international, national and regional organizations are asking Heads of State to make ambitious decisions to halt biodiversity loss.
  • Youth #ForNature Initiative: youth organizations have created a manifesto and an open letter calling for action to achieve the vision “living in harmony with nature”. The open letter will be presented to the UN Secretary-General at the UN General Assembly Biodiversity Summit.
  • Post-2020 Pavilion Partnership’s Call to Action: environment and development organizations will submit a call to the UN General Assembly Summit on Biodiversity, aiming to “unite global actions under all Multilateral Environmental Agreements and related policy processes to achieve an equitable, carbon-neutral, nature-positive world”.
  • Edinburgh declaration: sub-national governments, cities and local authorities are calling governments to support the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

Climate Week NYC 2020

The Climate Week NYC 2020, hosted by the Climate Group, in association with the United Nations and the City of New York, is taking place virtually from 21 to 27 September. It represents an opportunity to showcase climate action and discuss how to achieve the transition towards a zero-emissions world, by regrouping business and government leaders. The program will focus on 10 thematic areas:

  • Clean Energy Transition
  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Industry and Built Environment
  • Finance, Investment and Jobs
  • Food and Land Use
  • Nature and Science
  • US and International Policy
  • Youth, Public Mobilization and Justice
  • Sustainable Travel and Tourism
  • Climate Impacts and Adaptation

Various organization from international Geneva will be engaged in the Summit.

In the occasion, the Climate Group launched, an application to guide people through the 350+ events taking place as part of Climate Week NYC around the world.

Uniting Business LIVE

To mark the opening of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the United Nations Global Compact is organizing the virtual event “Uniting Business LIVE”, from 21 to 23 September. It will convene leaders from business, Government and civil society to discuss on the key pillars and priorities of the UN to strengthen peace and security, human rights and development, and to encourage businesses to support the work of the UN to build a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable world.

Various organizations from international Geneva will take part in the debate.

Nature for Life

The virtual event, Nature for Life, organized by UNEP, UNDP and CBD, taking place ahead of the Summit on Biodiversity, proposes multiple sessions to discuss how to halt biodiversity loss. This four-day conference will take audiences on various thematic journeys, delving deep into specialist topics, practical solutions and ambitious actions.

  • SDG Day: “Recognizing the value of nature in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” | 24 September
  • Business and Finance Day: “Greening our wallets in development, finance and business.” | 25 September
  • Global Ambition Day: “Creating a planetary response to our planetary emergency.” | 28 September
  • Local Action Day: “Celebrating the power of local action on nature for development.” | 29 September

All the sessions will be broadcast live and will be available after the event.

Global Goals Week

The Global Goals Week, taking place from 18 to 26 September, is a shared commitment between 100+ partners across civil society, business, academia, and the UN system to accelerate action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially during the UN General Assembly High-level Week.

Share your actions for achieving the SDGs on Facebook and Instagram with the “Global Goals Wheel” effect, developed by the UN.

Sustainable Development Impact Summit

The fourth Sustainable Development Impact Summit aims to initiate, accelerate, and scale-up entrepreneurial solutions to tackle climate change and advance sustainable development.

Taking place in the context of the UNGA, from 21 to 24 September 2020, the Summit is organized by the World Economic Forum and will convene leaders from government, business, international organizations and civil society along with a diverse group of experts and innovators.

SDG Action Zone

The SDG Action Zone is taking place, in the context of the United Nations General Assembly, from 22 to 24 September. It convenes leading thinkers, actors, creators, and activists to discuss on how to drive exponential change to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through debates, conversations, showcases and creative experiences. It provides a space for open, transparent, and inclusive multi-stakeholder engagement and global audience participation during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week.

And more

New UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Coral Reefs

A new, first of its kind fund to protect coral reefs was officially launched on the sidelines of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, with a coalition of partners convening to mobilise resources to make coral reefs more resilient. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs seeks to raise and invest USD $500 million in coral reef conservation over the next 10 years.

High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

A High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, held in accordance with General Assembly resolution 74/54 and decision 74/562 (A/74/L.75) will take place on 2 October 2020.

First anniversary of the Principles for Responsible Banking 

On 22 September 2020, UNEP will celebrate the first anniversary of the Principles for Responsible Banking, launched in 2019 at UNGA74.

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