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Day One 73rd UN General Assembly

Today September 25th the United Nations convenes for its 73rd General Assembly. The key address today is by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He is speaking to the annual gathering of the leaders of the UN member states. His speech is amazingly clear for a career diplomat. He draws attention early on to the mess that is the world order, castigating without pointing figures that its... actually everyone's problem, .. is attributable to a massive case of Trust Deficit Disorder (should there be such a disease). He goes on to suggest its only by the rebuilding trust in national institutions, states and the world order that things may improve. [This is an oblique reference to the particular Sustainable Development Goal ]
Making sure onlookers gets an earful about the UN mission 'to create a single world order' - an as yet to achieved goal, Guterres goes quickly on to establish the two biggest threats to the UN's survival though he may have meant to say it in everyone everywhere interests. Without quibbling he identified climate change as a direct existential threat. Which is to say the future of the species is at risk.

He also - and surprisingly, given the long list of today's ills, names Threat #2. Its New Technologies. Guterres breaks these down: Artificial.Intelligence, Blockchain, Weapons proliferation. As he sees it, these inventions can when viewed optimistically help the world achieve the SDGs. He's talking about smart driverless cars, curing diseases, feeding populations, spur economic growth, connect businesses and families and friends. Pragmatically though he asserts, they bring a swathe of threats. Risk of war, job loss through virtual and other innovative trends, crime like what emanates from the Dark Web (trafficking, cyberattack). He seems to views the latter list of risks as - this in no particular order; direct attacks on some sustainable development targets like; ending the skin trade, improving gender equality, misinformation to name a few.

Guterres did cite a few bright spots from his (the UN's perspective). He mentions work done for regulating smart weapons (Group of Gov Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons - Geneva), He talks about being witness to peace talks (Eritrea, Ethiopia), speaks positively about the ongoing bromance between the US and North Korea, mentions Columbia's goverment's committment to peace. He also claims credit to the UN for facilitating 'compacts' on migration and refugees though he does admit 'there's stilll a long way to go'. There is more and he goes on. Actually he's making sure to touch the 17 SDGs.

As he closes Senor Guterres makes a call to the UN heads at the Assembly “We share a common destiny.. We can master it only if we face it together. That my friends is why we have the United Nations”. He's actually reiterating now with “Our future rests on solidarity. Let's repair broken trust. Let's re-invigorate this multilateral project (the UN) and, We must uphold dignity for one and all”.

*NOTE: Environment Tobago is the current Caribbean membership focal point for the GEFCSO, a UN support body. As liaison we are committed to provide information on this event as well as others that serve the Global Environment Fund mission. More than that we are also motivated. Read our take on why the UN matters

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