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Amb. Dennis Francis, President, 78th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA)

President, UN General Assembly, Dennis Francis, closes first ‘Sustainability Week’ with call to action on energy

New York, 19 April 2024

The President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Mr. Dennis Francis, addressed delegates at the close of the UN General Assembly’s first-ever Sustainability Week today, wrapping up five days of thematic discussions and calling for concerted and accelerated action on debt sustainability, as well as sustainable tourism, transport, infrastructure connectivity and energy.

Speaking at the Global Stocktake on Sustainable Energy for All, the PGA said, “The past decade has seen renewable energy surge in every corner of the globe, albeit not yet at the pace or scale required to either power the lives of all people, everywhere, nor to rein in the worst impacts of climate change. We need to accelerate the transitions to a clean and renewable energy systems, all the while recognizing different national situations, priorities, pathways, and approaches.”

Recognizing the immense strides made in securing sustainable energy for all, yet the persistent gaps that remain, PGA issued a Call to Action, which included extending access to electricity for over 600 million people; providing clean cooking solutions to over 2 billion people; rapidly accelerating the transitions to clean, renewable energy; dramatically scaling up finance and investment for developing countries; and boosting public-private partnerships, particularly for technology transfer for least developed countries.

PGA added, “I urgently call on Member States and other stakeholders, encompassing the UN system, civil society, private sector, women, youth, academia, among others, to follow up on the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All, as well as to sustain and strengthen international dialogue and cooperation on energy at the UN, including through a potential UN conference on energy.”

Held from 15-19 April, the UN General Assembly Sustainability Week included high-level events on sustainable debt and socio-economic equality; sustainable tourism; sustainable transport; infrastructure connectivity; and the Global Stocktake marking the end of the UN’s Decade for Sustainable Energy for All.

Earlier in the week, during the high-level meeting on tourism, PGA welcomed the General Assembly’s endorsement of the Statistical Framework on Measuring Sustainability in Tourism. PGA will also submit, as an outcome of the High-Level Meeting on Sustainable Transport, his contribution to the implementation plan for the UN Decade on Sustainable Transport.

Amongst the high-level speakers and representatives were H.E. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, and H.E. Robinah Nabbanja, Prime Minister of the Republic of Uganda, who addressed the opening session on debt sustainability. H.E. Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, provided keynote remarks to the High-Level Meeting on Infrastructure Connectivity.

With a Presidency buffered between the 2023 SDG Summit, in September 2023, and the 2024 Summit of the Future, PGA used Sustainability Week to emphasize sector-by-sector progress across the Sustainable Development Goals.

At the same time, and recognizing the need for individual actions, PGA launched a campaign, called #ChooseSustainability,” to encourage Member States, Missions, delegates, UN Staff and the general public to commit to sustainable actions. Along with the participation of dozens of Member States and Permanent Missions to the UN, the campaign also saw over 150,000 ‘actions’ declared on the UN’s Act Now app.

PGA said, “I am deeply grateful to all those who joined us and chose sustainability; but this is not a one-off and I fully intend to continue emphasizing this call to action throughout the remainder of my Presidency and in the lead-up to the Summit of the Future, in September.”

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