Multilateralism remains “the only way to address common challenges”, UN General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid told journalists on Friday, in his first press conference since the conclusion of the annual High-Level Week.
COVID-19 remains a major challenge that “will not be over until we achieve universal vaccination”, he said, announcing a plan to convene a High-Level meeting in January to take stock of the global inoculation effort.
Noting that “humanity saw a tremendous amount of ingenuity and solidarity with the vaccines in record time”, the Assembly President said he was convinced that “we have the capacity to immunize the entire world”.
“What we need to do now is to act collectively to ensure that all who need it will receive the vaccine”, he argued. “We cannot simply accept that less than three per cent of people in Africa have received a shot”, while other regions are already administering boosters.
‘For people, for planet’
To confront the other worldwide threat of climate change, the Assembly President will convene, in hybrid format on 26 October, an event entitled “Delivering Climate Action – for People, for Planet and for Prosperity”.
“This event will be focused on the gap between current and required technical and financial capacities to achieve the 1.5 degrees target…[and] to show how that gap can be met”.
Mr. Shahid said it would be an opportunity for Member States, civil society and others, to come together to “take stock of the ambition raising initiatives along the path to COP26”, taking place at the start of November in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Assembly President announced that he would continue holding informal consultations with Permanent Representatives, as “Holhuashi Dialogues”, explaining that in his native Maldives, a Holhuashi is a meeting place to discuss ideas, and issues important to the community.
He said five such sessions would take place, “to bring the spirit of Holhuashi” to the Assembly, and “create a space for dialogue, exchange of views, and discussion on solutions”.
The first will focus on people and climate change: “This links with a series of events we are planning in the month of October around the theme of climate change, in the lead up to COP26”, Mr. Shahid told correspondents.
Turning the gender-balance tide
As the impacts of the pandemic continue, Mr. Shahid noted that it is becoming increasingly clear that to build back better, “a stronger gender lens on response and recovery is vital”.
As such, he announced that he would be reconstituting the General Assembly President’s Advisory Board on Gender Equality.
“If we don’t take the necessary steps to turn this tide, we will need over 135.6 years, according to recent studies, to close the gender gap”, stated the UN official. “We have to be faster than that”.
Mr. Shahid explained that the Board will bring together an “extensive mix of expertise” from Member States, the UN system, the private sector and others, to ensure a “truly inclusive perspective for a multi-faceted approach” to advancing gender equality throughout the work of the 76th session.
“This board will serve as a mechanism to help mainstream a gender perspective through all my initiatives and mandates for this session”, he said.
Mr. Shahid said he would be heading right away to the United Arab Emirates to visit the Dubai EXPO 2020, followed by an official visit to the Maldives, and then moving on to Serbia, for the Conference on the 60th Anniversary of the First Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement.
Previously, President Shahid spoke to UN News in an exclusive interview.