The United Nations General Assembly opened its 71st session on 14 September, with an emphasis on ensuring that implementation of the new global development goals, adopted by its 193 Member States last year and with the new Assembly President noting that it had been heartening to observe the sincerity with which governments and national planning agencies around the world have begun integrating the 2030 Agenda into national processes.

“This is indeed a great moment for the Pacific Island countries and especially on issues that affect us here in terms of climate change and the collaborative implementation of SDGs, which are key areas of focus for the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF)” said Secretary General François Martel, while representing the PIDF in New York. “This is truly a historic moment, as H.E in Thomson opened the 71st session and took an oath of office as the President of the General Assembly”.

“We would like to offer our sincere congratulations to H.E Thomson and wish him all the very best for his presidency role and are also positive that the plight of the Pacific Islands will now echo two folds within the corridors of the UN General Assembly, further commented the Secretary General.

Secretary General Martel added that there is a lot to be done towards the effective implementation of the SDGs and this cannot be done in isolation but rather with urgency for climate action, multi-stakeholder trust building for collaborative partnerships and financial sustainability. In this context, the PIDF Secretariat is looking forward to joining the UN’s efforts through the Inter-agency Consultative Group on SIDS for the implementation of the S.A.M.O.A. pathway.

H.E. Thomson, who had had been serving as the Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations until his appointment, said that the theme of the 71st session is ‘The Sustainable Development Goals: A Universal Push to Transform our World.’ The President of the General Assembly was elected during a session on June 13. At the time of his election, he served as Fiji’s permanent representative to the UN, a post he held since February 2010. Concurrently, he served as Fiji’s ambassador to Cuba.

The one-year presidency of the UNGA rotates between geographic areas, with the 71st session being the turn of the Asian-Pacific region. H.E Thomson replaces Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark to lead the plenary session of the 193 UN member states. To fulfill his commitment to achieving meaningful progress in all 17 Goals during the session, H.E. Thomson said he had appointed a team specifically dedicated to the implementation of the SDGs within his office.

H.E Thomson also pledged to work to strengthen the relations between the UN’s organs, continuing the practice of holding regular meetings with the Secretary-General, the Presidents of the Security Council, and the President of the UN Economic and Social Council, and inform the membership as to the scope of these meetings. During his posting as Fiji’s permanent representative, H.E Thomson once chaired the UN’s largest negotiating bloc, Group of 77 and China. In addition, he was a vice president of the UNGA from 2010 to 2011.