67th Session of UN General Assembly, New York Week of 19 September 2022 …

Listen to Amanda Gorman reading her poem, “An Ode We Owe,” read at the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, September 19th. Her poem addresses climate and equality.

The seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly opened on 13 September under the theme, “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” The debate session started on September 20th. A flavour of what world leaders have been saying over the past few days at the UNGA 77th Session can be read from PassBlue, September 20, Day 1; September 21, Day 2; September 22, Day 3; September 23, Day 4. Access to the statement of each country has been uploaded HERE on the UN Website. You have a choice to read a summary, listen to the video, and in some cases read the full text. This is helpful if you wish to see what your country, President, Prime Minister, or Foreign Minister has said. The statement of the UN Secretary-General provides a good overview of the multiple and intersecting global issues impinging on people and the planet. Yet the prevalence of war and conflict dominate the conversation with calls for full commitment to the Climate Change Conference at COP 27 (Conference of Parties 27)in Egypt, 6 – 18 November 2022. It is difficult to find any evidence of transformative solutions – yes there are many aspirations that seem to evaporate in the face of the issues.

One event (virtual) on the sidelines of the UN GA that I attended was ‘Faith in the Future’ How faith-based organizations are tackling the hunger crisis. For 9 years hunger declined but today the emergence of acute hunger around the world is alarming. 828 million people go to bed hungry every night, 349 million are experiencing acute hunger with 50 million facing starvation! Why you may ask? The world has changed says Barron Segar, President, and CEO, World Food Program USA listing 4 Cs – Costs are rising, Climate Change, COVID-19, and Conflict. Because Government funding is flat, partnerships become important. Partnership with the private sector fills the funding gap and provides innovative technical assistance. Faith-based organizations and philanthropy are well positioned also because they inspire giving, are trusted on the ground, and have the ability to mobilize and hold values that are critical to problem-solving – the world is one, inclusion etc. The organizations represented on the panel were The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints, Islamic Relief USA, Food for the Hungry, (Africa), and Catholic Relief Services (Latin America). There is one lovely story of an authentic interfaith collaboration between Islamic Relief and Catholic Relief Services in Africa.

This event showcases what is happening on the ground to alleviate hunger on a daily basis while encountering the multiple challenges posed by the 4 Cs.

Concurrently while the UN GA is debating through each state making its own statement, CSOs are engaging in the ‘Global People’s Assembly’ September 20 – 22 with over 1000 civil society groups proposing bold steps to transform our world.

This is where the hope for change resides. A Declaration developed with inputs from over 30 national and regional people’s assemblies, was adopted at the three-day Global People’s Assembly on Tuesday 22nd of September. “The time to act is now,” the group calls for a shared political and economic power equally between the global north and global south, for global democracy and a robust civic space. The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd is included in this through our membership in the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors. Implementation of Universal Social Protection is a part of the change we wish to see.

Another part of Good Shepherd’s advocacy toward structural and systemic change is through the Feminist Action Nexus for Economic and Climate Justice. The hashtag #FeministsWantSystemsChange, sums up the advocacy well but you may well ask how? In this session, Women’s Major Group (WMG) and Feminist Action Nexus members and allies will offer testimony of struggles against corporate capture and inspiration for a collective transformation towards a gender-equal world. I attended this event: Corporate Capture vs. Systems Change: Identifying a Feminist Way Forward on Wednesday 21 September. The current advocacy issue – asking UN Women to withdraw their memorandum with Blackrock. Inc based on the letter that was signed by over 700 organizations and individuals. Within Blackrock’s operations, many human rights violations have been identified and documented. Read more in an article in the Guardian.