Abdulla Shahid (General Assembly President) at the Fourth Thematic Consultation on 'Our Common Agenda' Report
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Remarks by Abdullah Shahid, President of the General Assembly, at the Fourth Thematic Consultation on 'Our Common Agenda' Report: "Protecting our planet and being prepared for the future".

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Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

Thank you for joining today's fourth thematic Consultation on 'Our Common Agenda'.

Held under the theme of "Protecting our planet and being prepared for the future", today's consultation seeks Member State feedback on proposals related to the environment, global health, and future generations.

This is a timely and pertinent topic. The world continues to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a disease brought on, in part, by our reckless relationship with the environment.

The sixth IPCC report, released just days ago, makes clear the existing link between the health and well-being of nature and of people, noting how functioning ecosystems provide clean air, water, food and carbon storage that we rely on.

The report is a clear indictment against our own delays, delusions, and deferrals. It details how accelerated planetary heating is compounding risks and making it harder to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report identifies different vulnerabilities, and assesses the capacities and capabilities, and limits for natural and human systems to adapt. It also points out that a climate resilient, sustainable world is more urgent than was previously thought.

While global health policy has always had to deal with environmental setbacks or challenges, these have almost always been localized and easily contained. This is no longer the case. Global challenges, such as climate change or ecosystem loss, now have direct health impacts on our species at large.

Excellencies,

Our wellbeing now depends entirely on our ability to work together, across borders and sectors, to address environmental challenges and to strengthen healthcare policies and systems.

None of this is new. This understanding is why we have the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We agreed to these mechanisms because we have realized the urgency and untenability of the situation that we find ourselves in.

However, what has become very clear is that there are significant gaps between what science tell us, and what we have done so far.

Clearly, we need to do more if we are to protect our future generations.

This is why the Secretary-General included, in Our Common Agenda, the proposals before us.

Excellencies, today's deliberations seek feedback on a number of proposals, including to deliver, this decade, on the three goals of the Paris Agreement:

1. to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius;

2. to ensure adaptation is mainstreamed into policies and funding;

3. and to ensure all financial flows are consistent with low greenhouse gas emissions.

They also encompass scaling-up the contribution of non-state actors to climate action; the finalization of a strong post-2020 biodiversity network; and a full transition of global food systems.

Beyond the environment, the report includes proposals to strengthen global health architecture, including among others strengthening the independence, authority and financing of the World Health Organization; support for universal health coverage; and recognition of the right to a healthy environment.

Excellencies,

Our future generations matter, and we have a responsibility toward them. The OCA report proposes several steps, including the appointment of a Special Envoy for Future Generations; a dedicated intergovernmental forum to discuss their interests; and a possible Declaration on Future Generations.

There are also proposals aimed at ensuring that the UN system is equipped to systematically act for the long-term, including the establishment of a Futures Laboratory, and the periodic presentation of a Strategic Foresight and Global Risk Report.

Together, the recommendations under this thematic cluster offer proposals to move our agenda forward, and to address future challenges by strengthening resilience, both in our relationship with the environment and in our own social systems.

I trust that the Member States will have another round of productive discussions on this very important thematic issue, and I wish you all the best in the deliberations ahead.

I thank you.