President James Michel arrived in New York last night to take part in the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Seychelles president will address the session tomorrow.
Meanwhile the UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon will today open the 70th session of the UN General Assembly debate, followed by addresses from the presidents of Brazil (Dilma Rousseff) and United States of America (Barrack Obama).
On Friday, Pope Francis addressed the gatherings and called on everyone to choose environmental justice over a “boundless thirst for power and material prosperity”.
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” said Pope Francis who also noted that the poor are the biggest victims of environmental destruction.
“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and the disadvantaged,” he said.
The poor, Pope Francis said, are “cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the consequences of abuse of the environment. These phenomena are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing ‘culture of waste’”.
Also on Friday, the world leaders adopted an ambitious agenda to reset their own priorities — from ending hunger and protecting forests to ensuring quality education for all.
“We want to change our world, and we can,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told the General Assembly.
China has promised a cap-and-trade policy in 2017. South Africa has announced its climate plan, Indonesia has announced its commitments, and Brazil was due to reveal its plan yesterday.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday his country was already on its way to what he called “a sustainable path to prosperity”.
He enumerated a list of things that his administration had already announced: ramping up renewable energy, cleaning rivers and imposing a carbon tax.
The summit meeting at the General Assembly for the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals is something of a prelude to the Paris conference later this year, where countries are trying to come up with a global compact to cut their carbon emissions and to help the most vulnerable countries deal with the ravages of climate change.
The global goals, which have emerged after three years of negotiations are 17 in all. Known as the Sustainable Development Goals, they are not legally binding, and therefore not enforceable. But according to critics, they carry a moral force of coercion, because they are adopted by consensus by the 193 member states of the United Nations. They apply to all countries, not just poor ones, as was the objective of the last round of ambitions, called the Millennium Development Goals, which expired this year.
A bold new global agenda to end poverty by 2030 and pursue a sustainable future was unanimously adopted on Friday by member states of the United Nations.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the summit, the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, said: “The new agenda is a promise by leaders to all people everywhere. It is a universal, integrated and transformative vision for a better world.
This session of the General Assembly is an historic one as the United Nations is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.
President Michel is accompanied by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan; the secretary general in the Office of the President, Lise Bastienne; the diplomatic adviser to the President, Ambassador Callixte D’Offay; the Seychelles ambassador to the US and permanent representative of Seychelles to the United Nations, Marie-Louise Potter and the ambassador for Small Island Developing States and Climate Change, Ronald Jumeau.
Meanwhile, today, President Michel will also take part in the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting, at the invitation of Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America. This meeting is taking place on the margins of the United National General Assembly Session and it will bring together global leaders from all sectors of society to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
President Michel has been invited to give his perspective as the leader of an island country that is spearheading the development of a Blue Economy as an innovative way for small island states to take full ownership of their large ocean territories to develop their islands through the sustainable use of their marine resources while practicing proactive conservation policies for the oceans and seas that surround them.
Gerard Govinden in New York