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UN General Assembly meetings in New York must not forget to focus on sustainability and equitable leadership for developing countries

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is holding its 78th session this year at a time when people and the planet are facing escalating challenges. This month in North Africa, a devastating earthquake in Morocco and extreme floods in Libya have claimed thousands of lives. As we reach the halfway mark for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, in light of these catastrophic events and their lasting reverberations for the communities affected, it’s more important than ever that our efforts leave no one behind. 

The high-level meetings in New York this week will spotlight the Ukraine war with its visiting president addressing the General Assembly calling for unity, but developing countries are also expected to push for faster action in an ever more urgent context in which leaders must come together to protect and mitigate risk for the most vulnerable communities. 

The just concluded SDG Summit, the Climate Ambition Summit, and three high-level meetings on health point to the magnitude of today’s global crises and the importance of leaders, youth, activists, and civil society representatives coming together to deliver sustainable, long-term solutions.

The centrality of equity and inclusion in sustainable development is also reflected in many of the discussions taking place at UNGA 78. Events will see leaders from around the world explore topics such as the role of women leaders in providing climate and finance solutions; and the nexus of climate, education, and gender.

As part of our efforts to advance equity in leadership in Africa, the EJS Center is taking the opportunity at this year’s UNGA session to gather women leaders, policy- and decision-makers, and a wide range of stakeholders from across the continent and beyond to discuss ways to increase women’s representation in public leadership. The UNGA side events that the EJS Center will host with its partners will shed light on the challenges and opportunities of advancing women’s political representation and participation in public life.

Taking place on September 22, the ‘Achieving #GapZero: evidence-driven inclusive governance in Africa’ event will bring together representatives from government, philanthropy, multilateral agencies, research and civil society organizations to identify solutions to the biases and disparities that exist in public governance. Organized in partnership with IDinsight, UNDP, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the event will seek to uncover the barriers that hamper women’s ascension to leadership positions and will explore evidence-driven strategies to increase their political participation.

In collaboration with the Open Society Foundations and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the Center is also organizing an ‘Intimate Fireside Dialogue on the Advance of a Future Feminist Democracy’. Senior political and philanthropic leaders will gather to discuss how to build an ecosystem of support around women in politics who are pushing forward progressive issues. By leveraging their own experiences and insights, this dialogue seeks to increase the level of collaboration needed to support women leaders, knowing that more equitable and inclusive political systems are essential to address the myriad of challenges we face globally.

UNGA 78 is a unique opportunity to take stock of progress toward the SDGs and bolster efforts aimed at achieving a more sustainable future for all.

Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn as we’re sharing updates from New York this week. 

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