United Nations: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the annual high-level UN General Assembly session on September 27 and will have a packed agenda of bilateral and multilateral engagements during his nearly week-long stay in New York.
According to an updated list of speakers for the General Debate of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Modi will address the high-level session on the morning of September 27. As prime minister, Modi had given his maiden address to world leaders at the UN General Assembly in 2014. His visit in September and address to world leaders at the UN will be the first after winning a second term as Prime Minister in a resounding electoral victory in May.
According to the list of speakers, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to address global leaders on September 27. Khan will address the UNGA session shortly after Modi's address. The initial speakers' list indicates that about 112 Heads of State, nearly 48 Heads of Government and over 30 Foreign Ministers will arrive in New York to address the General Debate.
The General Debate will commence on September 24 and run through September 30. US President Donald Trump, who had delivered his first address to global leaders from the General Assembly hall's iconic green podium in 2017, will address the high-level session on the morning of September 24. The US is traditionally the second speaker on the opening day of the General Debate, after Brazil. Modi has a packed agenda of bilateral and multilateral engagements in the UN and New York area during his nearly week-long visit to the city. He will be honoured by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Indian leader will be presented with the 2019 'Global Goalkeeper Award', which according to the Foundation is a "special recognition" that celebrates a political leader who has "demonstrated their commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally." Modi will be honoured for his leadership of the Swachch Bharat Mission, which he had launched on October 2, 2014.
The ambitious mission aims to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in the country by this year as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary. So far, 90 million toilets have been built to eliminate open defecation by October 2, 2019 and currently 98 per cent of India's villages have rural sanitation coverage instead of 38 per cent four years ago. The Foundation will host the fourth annual Goalkeepers 'Global Goals Awards' on September 24.
As the world commemorates Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary, Modi will also host a special event 'Leadership Matters: Relevance of Gandhi in the Contemporary World' on September 24 in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber in the UN Headquarters.
He will also be the keynote speaker at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum on September 25. Sources have said that after Modi's keynote address, there will be a Q&A session with the Indian leader moderated by Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies Founder Michael Bloomberg. The Forum gathers global business and government leaders to discuss innovative and collaborative ways to solve the new challenges to global economic growth, the organization said.
During his visit to New York, Modi will also inaugurate the 'Gandhi Peace Garden', an innovative initiative to commemorate Gandhi's 150 birth anniversary this year. Under this initiative, the Consulate General of India in New York, Long Island-based NGO Shanti Fund and the State University of New York - Old Westbury have entered into an agreement to plant 150 trees.
The garden is dedicated in the memory of Gandhi and is a crowdsourced project, with people adopting trees in the memory of their loved ones. The garden is in an open site within the 600 acres campus of the University. Several high-level summits will be held on the margins of the 74th session of UN General Assembly.
With a view to boosting ambition and accelerating actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will host the 2019 Climate Action Summit on September 23 to meet the climate challenge. Modi is expected to address this summit. The UN will also host the SDG Summit 2019 on September 24 and 25. Heads of State and Government will gather at the United Nations Headquarters to follow up and comprehensively review progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) under the 74th Session of the General Assembly is the first UN summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015. Modi is expected to attend the multiple high-level summits on the margins of the General Assembly session.
Before arriving in New York for the UNGA session, Modi is expected to visit Houston where he will address the Indian-American community on September 22. "Howdy, Modi!", the Indian-American community summit, will be hosted by the Texas India Forum, the Houston-based non-profit. The event is expected to be attended by tens of thousands of people, including influential US lawmakers and political leaders. In 2015, Modi had addressed the high-level UN Sustainable Development Summit ahead of the General Debate, when world leaders had adopted the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, an intergovernmental set of aspiration Goals with 169 targets.
By Yoshita Singh