No more. There comes a time when the usual rules of diplomacy and status quo protecting norms need to stand aside.
Greta Thunberg's 'How dare you' speech has instantly took it's rightful place amongst the most impactful spoken words of all time. Our ecosystems demand the blunt truth and the emotional power broke through the routinely diplomatically restrained speeches frequently witnessed within the UN campus around General Assembly (UNGA) time.
This isn't my first visit to the UN Headquarters having spoken and presented at a few events over a handful of trips, but it is my first General Assembly experience. I'm here for Global Goals Week as my introduction to my two-year role as a +SocialGood Connector for the UN Foundation that kicked off with the Social Good Summit over at 92Y on Sunday.
For context, and also for my own therapy as nobody can truly understand this atmosphere unless you've sampled it - there is no other other setting in the world that compares to New York during UNGA, especially when you are surreally semi-coccooned on the east side of Manhattan in a UN-world where every other person you are surrounded by feels like are secret service or the police and roads dominated by black SUVs with their own lane. It's almost dystopian, but reality requires such to provide the secure environment to convene a world with much to overcome. New York itself doesn't seem to notice much, but that is the beauty of New Yorkers now numb to the annual chaos.
Four days in and the change in the air is palpable. Something is different. It is too early to say what exactly. Maybe its the hope created by the scale of the climate protests on Friday? Maybe it is the understanding we are behind too many of the SDG targets? Maybe its Greta's words resonating at a time where the deniers and avoiders have precious little room to stand? Maybe it's the democratic push back in the political world with significant developments in the political worlds of the UK and USA? It could be the bubble I'm in, or my eternal optimism and I'd like to think I can see past those, but something has changed.
This UNGA was never going to be routine. Five years into a fifteen year programme of the most ambitious targets ever created needed to be a stick in the ground. 2020 has to be a time to move past reflection and kick on, with an overdue recalibration towards urgent action and delivery. Greta helped underline that for those who lack confidence or political will.
The next ten years will pass in a blink. Every single day from here on in has to be bolder, bigger and more inclusive than the day before. We need ten years of daily moon-landing like acheivement. The alternative is unacceptable, especially to a more engaged and knowledgable youth than probably ever before. Younger people like Greta and many thousands of similar teenage activists are igniting a new future that current societal and political systems will struggle to service.
I've got one more day tomorrow over at UN HQ to day to absorb and process an overwhelming amount of challenges, progress and conversations to follow up on, but I am eagerly anticipating the SDG cities session at the SDG Action Zone in the morning. That particular announcement will be definitely be getting it's very own report here from yours truly.
Of the many from around the world attending UNGA I know of at least one group who dare to challenge the norms that have brought us to this point. I can guarantee that my amazing +SocialGood Connector colleagues will dare to provoke, challenge, innovate, promote, deliver and succeed in ways we all yet to dream. This is definitely a group to keep an eye on and I'll share all the updates as they begin to emerge, as well as picking up my own damn social media game again!
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