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Trinidad and Tobago’s Dennis Francis leads United Nations General Assembly in 78th session; highlights “peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability”

Posted: Thursday, September 7, 2023. 3:21 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago became only the third Caribbean national and fourth representative of Latin America and the Caribbean since 2000 to serve as President of the United Nations General Assembly, which kicked off its 78th session on Wednesday.

In his inaugural address President Francis outlined his four key priorities or “watchwords” for the session: peace, prosperity, progress, and sustainability.

“As the UN’s chief policy making body, the General Assembly bears a special responsibility to ensure that our efforts must be anchored in a robust multilateral system, faithful to the cherished values and principles enshrined in UN Charter,” he said. Against this background, he highlighted the Assembly’s Security Council veto initiative as a step towards transparency and accountability regarding the application of the veto.

Francis next addressed prosperity and challenges for countries in conflict and post-conflict, particularly highlighting the transition to clean energy and greater support for adaptation by improving availability, accessibility and affordability of climate finance. Francis also highlighted the unique circumstances of least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), and small island developing States (SIDS), urging renewed effort to follow through on their specific development agendas.

He also emphasized the importance of the SDGs and the upcoming SDG Summit as a critical opportunity to accelerate progress. “How the Summit unfolds will set the tone for the rest of the General Assembly agenda this session; and for the 2030 Agenda over the next 7 years,” he said.

He also highlighted the need for global solidarity and cooperation in building resilient health systems in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the need for financing to realize the ambitious development goals (SDGs).

Lastly, in the area of transformative climate action, he focused on the critical relationship with water – the common resource fundamental to all life, yet one that remains inadequately conserved and prioritized.

“We need a green ‘blue revolution’ that addresses and indeed brings together concerns around water, climate, biodiversity, and land and soil degradation and global food security,” he highlighted. “This is the only way to guarantee that the right to a clean and sustainable environment is upheld for all.”

Francis succeeded Csaba Korosi of Hungary; the last Caribbean national to serve was the late John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda.


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