What happened this weekend at the #UNGA? Recap here

After the Sustainable Development Summit wrapped up on Sunday, attention will soon turn to the annual General Debate, but so much has happened over the past three days that it is easy to have missed out on some news. Here is a short recap.

Papal visit

After Holiness Pope Francis addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday, he joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cap off the historic visit by taking a selfie-style photo using a Twitter Mirror.


In his address, the Pope said that without the efforts of the United Nations “mankind would not have been able to survive the unchecked use of its own possibilities.”

He also discussed the “right of the environment” saying that any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity.”

Sustainable Development Summit opening ceremony

Goodwill Ambassador Shakira performed John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the Summit opening ceremony:

Malala Yousafzai made a powerful call for world leaders to promise the right to safe, free and quality primary and secondary education for every child.

Speaking from the General Assembly Hall balcony alongside 193 young people from each of the 193 UN Member States, Malala said: “World leaders sitting there, look up, because the future generation is raising their voice.”

UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Photo/Mark Garten

High-level and side events

The Private Sector Forum, organized by the UN’s General Compact, highlighted the fundamental role of the private sector in advancing the newly-adopted sustainable development agenda on Saturday.

Among the numerous speakers that addressed the Forum was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who highlighted the vital role that having access to technology can play.

UN Photo/Mark Garten

UN Photo/Mark Garten

Mobilizing Generation Zero Hunger, another high-level side event of the Summit, showcased how youth are central to achieving the Global Goals for sustainable development.

The event focused on Goal 2: “Zero Hunger”, that calls on countries to: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”, and its contributions to the new sustainable development agenda.


On Saturday, citizens of the world, of all ages and from all backgrounds, gathered in Central Park for the Global Citizen concert in support of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development.


Other related stories and links:

Toilet paper with an important message

Toilet paper with a special message -- end open defecation

A call to end the practice of open defecation will be “rolled out” in a unique way during the UN General Assembly’s high-level week.

Special toilet paper featuring educational messages will be placed in restrooms in the areas of the UN building frequented by delegates to the General Assembly.

“One billion people globally do not have any access to a toilet and have to defecate in the open” is one of the messages on the toilet paper, calling attention to a problem with serious consequences for the health and development of communities. Eighty-two per cent of the one billion people practising open defecation in the world live in just 10 countries.

Another message is: “A child dies every 2.5 minutes from diarrhoeal diseases spread by lack of access to a clean toilet, proper hygiene and safe drinking water.”

The toilet paper calls on users: “Let’s break the silence and end #opendefecation.”

The toilet paper was produced in support of the UN’s call to action on sanitation, launched by Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson on behalf of the UN Secretary-General. The project was carried out by UNICEF, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the Millennium Campaign, among other partners.

“I think we have seen progress on water, although there are still 780 million people without safe water. But I am sad to say that we have not seen the same pace of progress on sanitation,” the Deputy Secretary-General recently told The Guardian.

“On the contrary, I would say the sanitation goal is one of the most lagging of all the goals, and that is why we have tried our best to speed up the work for achieving it by the end of next year.”

He said he was driven to speak out by memories of the children he had seen die from diarrhoea, dysentery and dehydration. “It’s a very concrete challenge and it’s not rocket science,” he said. “We need to do something about it.”

For more information see opendefecation.org or sanitationdrive2015.org