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Statement by the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson at the opening ceremony of the 105th session of the ACP Council of Ministers, Brussels, 3 May 2017

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Honorable Ministers

H.E. Dr. Patrick I. GOMES, Secretary-General of the ACP Group,

H.E. Dr. Abraham TEKESTE, Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, President in Office of Council


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today in Brussels to address the 105th Session of the Council of Ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

I would like to begin by acknowledging the long-standing commitment and dedication of ACP members to advancing global efforts to achieve a free and democratic world of peace and security, and of sustainable development. Together we envisage a world in which poverty is eradicated, gender equality is achieved, human rights flourish and good governance is a given.

The unique composition of the ACP Group, with its 79 developing country Member States, positions it to play a crucial role in building the necessary partnerships to achieve the global solutions needed to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ACP’s role can only become more significant as we work to progress our sustainable development objectives in a complex and rapidly-changing world.

We live in a world characterized by political turbulence, economic uncertainty, intractable peace and security challenges, rising terrorism and violent extremism, and large-scale movement of refugees and migrants.

This era of exponential population growth, rapid urbanization, rising inequality, environmental degradation, and increasingly destructive impacts of climate change, is one in which the building blocks of sustainable peace and sustainable development are all the more difficult to put in place.

One only need look at the catastrophic drought and famine being experienced in Africa, in particular in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and neighboring Yemen, to see how severe the global humanitarian situation is becoming, and how quickly hard-won development gains can be reversed.

During my recent visit to Africa, many interlocutors asked for my help in raising global awareness of the urgency of the humanitarian situation. In response, three weeks ago I convened an informal briefing of UN Member States at which all stakeholders were encouraged to contribute to the Secretary-General’s Call to Action on famine response and prevention.

It is a call that I repeat today, and one which I will be conveying to others throughout my term as President of the General Assembly.


While humanitarian crises such as the African famine require our urgent response, they also call on us to take action to make the longer-term changes needed to create resiliency and shift humanity’s trajectory away from the precipice of unsustainability towards which our current habits are taking us. It is a central responsibility of our generation of legislators and bureaucrats to create the conditions that lead to a future on this planet that is safe, secure and prosperous for all our children and grandchildren.

Driving this global transformation requires all nations to begin by scaling-up their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

And it requires that we take a number of other key steps to drive a smart and integrated approach to implementing all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Firstly, we must establish innovative, new strategic partnerships that bring together Governments, the UN, multilateral organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia, and others. These partnerships must  drive collaborative coordinated implementation efforts that leverage partners’ comparative advantages.

Secondly, we have to mobilize the unprecedented volume of resources needed to achieve the SDGs.

To help progress this mobilization, two weeks ago I convened a High-Level SDG Financing Lab at UN Headquarters that brought together key partners to discuss ways to release the resources needed to support the world’s long-term sustainable development objectives

Among the key findings of the Lab’s discussions were that: the financing needed to fund the SDGs already exists, but global financial systems need to be aligned to sustainable development; and that while the SDG make economic sense for business, more needs to be done to connect global financing with bankable and sustainable projects.

These key messages I took with me to the Spring meetings of the World Bank later that week, where I urged partners to join forces to find new and inclusive ways of partnering, financing, and delivering on the ground.

I encourage all of you to also participate in this ongoing conversation between the public and private sectors. Both ACP and the United Nations can help to provide platforms for productive conversation.

Thirdly, and finally, in order to effectively drive the catalytic action needed to achieve sustainable peace and development, we must apply the exponential advances of innovation and technology.

To this end, on 17 May, I will be convening a 'High-Level SDG Action Event on Innovation and Connectivity’ at UN Headquarters in New York, to bring leading innovators together with Member States and other key stakeholders, to explore ways to harness the power of technology in support of SDG implementation.


I am deeply committed to doing all I can to help bring key stakeholders together to share ideas, broker partnerships, and drive a universal push to implement all 17 SDGs.

I have convened a series of High-Level SDG Action events throughout the year on Sustaining Peace, on Climate Action and other subjects, in addition to the SDG Financing Lab, and Innovation and Connectivity event I have just mentioned. I will also be convening a High-Level event on Education and the implementation of SDG4 on 28 June.

In addition, one month from now, stakeholders from around the world will gather in New York for The Ocean Conference. The Conference, which will be held from 5 to 9 June, will focus on implementation of SDG14 – the Ocean goal – and will provide the best opportunity available to humanity to mobilize global efforts to reverse the cycle of decline in which the health of the Ocean is currently caught.

The Conference will build on existing efforts by stakeholders, and will lead to three key outcomes: first, a Call for Action declaration; second a report of the seven partnership dialogues that will be held during the Conference; and third, the list of voluntary commitments that will drive achievement of SDG14.

The voluntary commitments registry will effectively serve as a compilation of humanity’s best efforts to implement the ambitious targets of SDG14.

I am therefore encouraging all partners that care about the health of the Ocean to participate in the Ocean Conference at the highest level possible, and to make a pledge for concrete action which can be registered on the online registry of voluntary commitments, at the Ocean Conference website. Please go to the website today and see what voluntary commitments should be registered from governments, agencies and organizations within your purview.


If the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved in the next 14 years, the ongoing leadership of African, Caribbean and Pacific nations, and of the ACP Group itself, will be vital. In this regard I am very proud of the role my own country, Fiji, is playing this year in leading responsible action both through its Presidency of COP23 and it Co-Presidency of The Ocean Conference.

I wish you continued success in all your efforts in support of sustainable development. The spirit of unity and solidarity that this group shares so deeply, should be shared with the rest of the world, to help us all drive the global transformation we desire to secure a peaceful, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

I thank you.


Amb. Peter Thomson
President of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly


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