MCLD at the UN General Assembly

While the official proceedings at the opening of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly were pretty grim — the Secretary General stated “Our world is in peril — and paralyzed.” – and while virtually no civil society participation in the high-level events was permitted – we civil society members participated in dozens of parallel events that made the trip to New York City worth the effort. You can see good summaries of the official sessions here and here.

Amanda Gorman recites a poem during an event called “SDG Moment” at United Nations headquarters, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. The event is meant to highlight the urgency and importance of the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Youth were highly visible, in big numbers. Many youth activists have succeeded in being appointed to official government delegations. An official UN Youth Strategy was launched in 2018, and issued its second progress report. Although BTS was not part of UNGA this year, the session opened with an amazing poem by the US Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman – you will want to watch it here!

WD2023 (the 2023 Women Deliver Conference) held a kick-off reception with more than 250 civil society activists including many MCLD members. This will be the largest women’s rights event of the year to be held in Kigali, and the reception included the foreign minister of Rwanda, the Women Deliver chair New Zealand former prime minister Helen Clark and a surprise visit by Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai. 

Malala with Maliha Khan – President and CEO, courtesy WD2023

Localization – our favorite topic – was addressed in several side events:

The first was organized by our sister network, the People First Community and featured Liberia’s former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, along with Ford Foundation president, Darren Walker, Anne Marie Burgoyne of the Emerson Collective, Caren Wakoli – founder and interim executive director of the Emerging Leaders Foundation (and who spoke on our September Global Call) and moderated by the CEO and Co-Founder of Teach for All — Wendy Kopp. You can watch the video here.

The second featured USAID Administrator Samantha Power organizing by MCLD member Peace Direct at the International Peace Institute (watch it here) at which our colleague Gunjan Veda was the first to speak after the main speakers (at 38:37). 

One special treat for me was the giant mural painted by my favorite street artist, Eduardo Kobra from Brazil (see the featured image). Years ago Kobra had dreamed of painting the giant exterior wall of the UN Conference Building, but thought it an unlikely aspiration. But, this year it happened! It’s good to have a Brazilian as UN Secretary General!