United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week 2023

Each year in late September, the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York becomes a hive of activity for UN General Assembly (UNGA) High-Level week. The week occurs soon after the opening of a new session of the General Assembly, as United Nations Members convene at Head of State or Government level for the General Debate, alongside a range of other high-level meetings and summits. New York Climate Week also runs concurrently making it a very busy period.

Early Warnings for All on the global agenda

High-level of political support for the Early Warnings for All (EW4ALL) initiative was on show throughout the week. The initiative garnered a special segment on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit on 20 September, where the President of Mozambique, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Prime Minister of Fiji, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia all spoke. The Maldives’ Minister of State for Environment, Climate Change and Technology described actions being taken nationally to roll out the initiative. The Prime Minister of Nepal, President of Romania, President of Pakistan, and the President of Iceland also described how their governments are supporting the achievement of EW4ALL in their countries and internationally.

To mark the Summit, Microsoft announced support for the initiative through the use of AI, satellite imagery and predictive analytics to help understand populations most at risk. Preeminent Multi-lateral Development Banks also voiced their commitment to work together in support of EW4ALL. The Green Climate Fund announced new investment in a collaborative project between the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WMO. The project will leverage further GCF funding in the future to address the early warning gap in seven countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Cambodia, Chad, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji and Somalia.

Recognizing the wide range of partners and stakeholders needed to advance EW4ALL, a special side event, hosted by WMO, UNDRR and the Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS) was held the day after the Summit, to allow more partners from the private sector, development funds, civil society organizations, private foundations and academia to participate. The event heard from the Prime Ministers of Aruba and St Maarten, representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands. They both elaborated on the challenges faced by small islands and provided details on the investments of the Netherlands government in the EW4ALL initiative, “from satellites to sandbags” in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. A special financing segment focused on the successes of, and increased alignment between, the Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) and the Climate Risk and Early Warnings Systems Initiative (CREWS). The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF) was referenced many times throughout the week’s events as an example of a key innovative fund that can be an indispensable component of adaptation programmes.

EW4All also featured in a special session in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Pavilion. WMO Secretary-General and the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the WMO spoke at the session along with Google’s Chief Sustainability Officer.

The WMO Secretary-General also held bilateral meetings with the Minister of State for International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan to advance the initiative from both the donor and implementer perspectives.

WMO Secretary-General Prof Petteri Taalas

The events further cemented the importance of implementing the EW4All initiative among other key issues at the top of the global agenda on climate change. Maintaining and further enhancing this positioning will be a key objective for the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28).

Science for the Sustainable Development Goals

2023 marks the half way point for achieving the SDGs, thus the SDG Action Weekend was organized just prior to the High-Level week. It generated opportunities for stakeholders, UN entities, and Member States to set out actions to drive SDG transformation between now and 2030. WMO helped to organize the science and academia segment and presented key messages from United in Science 2023, which focused on the crucial role of weather, climate and water science and services for accelerating progress towards achieving the SDGs. WMO also participated in events highlighting the need for better hydrological assessments and information products to inform climate mitigation efforts. Actions to scale up ambition to deliver affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) were also presented over the weekend, including two Energy Compacts that WMO have developed – one on Renewable Energy Atlases and the other on Greenhouse Gas Information Systems.

WMO Energy Sector Contributions

WMO was invited to attend the prestigious Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit as a member of the Expert Advisory Panel for its 2023 prize. The summit focused on bringing together policymakers, global business leaders, philanthropists and climate activists to spotlight and scale groundbreaking solutions that address the world’s most crucial environmental challenges. WMO also participated in the discussions of the Business Council for International Understanding on the opportunities for renewable energy projects to support the achievement of SDG 7, especially by substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by 2030.

New York Climate Week

Building on last year’s interactions with the organizers of New York Climate Week, WMO Secretary-General contributed to a video for the opening ceremony of this year’s events.

UNGA High-Level week provided a critical milestone on the climate calendar to advance topics on mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage. The small WMO delegation helped to ensure WMO remains involved in the global climate discourse.

 

Thee UN Deputy Secretary-General’s Women Rise for All lunch, which celebrated the remarkable contributions of influential women leaders with the hope of inspiring greater connections and action for the SDGs.  From left to right: UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ahern, Princess Mabel of the Netherlands, Professor Dwikorita Karnwati, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the WMO, and Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg.

 

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