Gain insights into this year's UN General Assembly in New York through the eyes of our director of policy and campaigns, Diana Sarosi.
Last month, I was privileged to join Oxfam's delegation to New York to participate in events organized around the UN General Assembly. This is the most significant UN moment of the year, when governments, Heads of State, and civil society come together in New York to discuss the world's most pressing problems.
The number of events happening in those two weeks is astounding and a testament to the many conversations needed to make change happen. The UN hosted the SDG Summit, the Climate Ambition Summit, and the Generation Equality Mid-Point Moment, to name just a few. During each one, fundamental questions were raised about our progress toward achieving the world's biggest goals, like sustainable development, climate targets, and advancing gender equality. And the verdict wasn't good: not much progress has been made, and we are nowhere near reaching our targets. The goal of an equitable, just, and sustainable world is farther away than ever.
At a time when most people worldwide are struggling to make ends meet due to inflation or are uprooted by climate disasters, this is a hard pill to swallow. Every day, our news fills with anxiety-inducing crises. Yet, the endless speeches by government representatives during these events don't display the sense of urgency that the rest of us in the world are feeling. Sure, there is some action, some small pockets of progress. But clearly much more has to happen. Ultimately, we need a complete shift in paradigm rather than just more of the same.
That's where civil society delivered. The People's Global Assembly was one example of civil society laying out what's needed to dismantle the unjust systems upholding inequality and injustice. Feminists shared their vision of a feminist economy that doesn't rely on exploiting the majority for the prosperity of the few. At Oxfam Canada's "Building Evidence on Policy Action for the Care Economy" event, speakers also called for a new paradigm – where care for people and the planet is at the heart of everything.
Listening to these activists gave me the hope I sometimes struggle to find.
While in New York, I got to participate in the climate march too. That day, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to call for an end to fossil fuels. Those people are no longer satisfied by speeches and empty promises; they want action now. As someone who grew up in East Germany, I know too well the power people can have, and it is that hope in the people that gives me the strength to carry on speaking truth in the halls of power.