February 24, 2022
Thank you Amb. Cousens for the kind introduction and for your effective leadership of the UN Foundation. It was great to see so many of our Youth Observers share their reflections and journeys, and to be reminded about the important role youth plays in shaping policies for a better and more sustainable future.

What an inspiring and engaging virtual Summit this has been! I hope you were able to take advantage of the many ways to engage, being a doer and feeling inspired to continue making an impact beyond today’s Summit.

I want to thank again the Global Engagement Summit Committee of the National Council co-lead by Akash Pattel and Bettina Haussmann, its committee members, and UNA-USA Sr. Director of Programs and Policy, Farah Eck for their vision, creativity and hard work over the past several months.

The world woke up to the shock of a full military invasion of Ukraine and the realization that a military offensive of this size has not taken place in Europe since World War II.

We condemn the unprovoked Russian military invasion and urge the international community to act urgently and robustly to protect the people of Ukraine and prevent the conflict from spreading both within and beyond the borders of Ukraine. This is a time that tests the power and commitment of the United Nations to fulfill its charter as it states, "We the Peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war..."

As Dr. King stated more than a half century ago: We know first-hand that "what affects one directly affects all indirectly." There is no doubt today about the importance of multilateral cooperation to prevent conflict and build lasting peace, and the importance of UNA-USA’s mission of educating and mobilizing support for a strong US-UN partnership, a partnership that remains as critical as ever.

The world is facing unprecedented levels of humanitarian need. This year, 274 million people are expected to need humanitarian aid, an almost 20% increase from already record high numbers in 2021. The data reveals troubling trends: increases in forced displacement, more people on the edge of acute famine, the concentration of the vaccine inequity reality, increased intersections between issues like climate and hunger with conflict, a rise in authoritarianism, and a surge in conflict and violence.

This demands greater global cooperation to better understand and resolve conflicts. Thankfully, research shows that investments in prevention and peacekeeping not only work, but pay dividends.

As the UN Secretary-General laid out in his vision statement for his second term, underscoring the stakes of the current moment: “The choices we make now will determine our trajectory for decades to come.” That reality, and the urgency and acceleration of the challenges and opportunities before us, were the impetus behind the Our Common Agenda report, which makes the case for stronger action and more inclusive global cooperation to deliver against the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

A main reflection during these past few challenging years is the need for renewed commitment to build a more sustainable world, the future we want and the UN we need. This reflection calls us to pay greater attention to the 2030 Development Agenda and the promotion and protection of human rights and equity for all.

The increased global challenges call for growing investment in the UN and its agencies for building and sustaining peace and in cooperation with civil society organizations. It means that we must build back more equitably and with greater resilience in the aftermath of COVID-19, climate crises and growing conflicts.

The UN Association and its members are united more than ever in their commitment to global engagement and their belief that each of us can play a part in advancing the UN’s mission and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Our advocacy actions have been and continue to be impactful in helping secure UN funding and supporting US re-engagement in the multilateral space as a leader.

This is indeed One Humanity, One Planet and One Common Agenda. Join our movement, get engaged and be an advocate for change in your community.

This concludes today’s GES. Thank you for your participation and support.

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