UN75 Global Governance Forum: Session Overviews

Day 1: Wednesday, September 16

Post-COVID Recovery and the Future of Global Economic and Social Governance
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST

The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center has tracked more than 25 million confirmed cases of the virus globally, already causing nearly 850 thousand deaths (by 1 September 2020). The remarkable speed, global reach, and ease by which the virus crossed borders and is being transmitted between people have sent stock markets tumbling worldwide, with the World Bank projecting the deepest global recession since World War II (an estimated 5.2 percent contraction in global GDP in 2020). This excessive volatility, the sudden drop in confidence by consumers, and severe knock-on economic and social effects have resulted in a swift overnight contraction in cross-border finance, trade, air travel, and other sectors of our hyperconnected global economy, as well as millions of job losses. This session will examine measures to overhaul our system of global economic and social governance, both to respond to the immediate challenge of recovery from COVID-19 and redouble efforts to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Rethinking the World’s System of Collective Security 75 Years After San Francisco
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST

75 years after its inception, the United Nations faces daunting challenges regarding one of its main tasks: the maintenance of international peace and security. Multiple, concurrent, and recurring intrastate conflicts, exploited by international state and non-state actors, have reversed the declining global trends in political violence witnessed since the end of the Cold War, fueling refugee movements and human suffering, particularly in the fragile and less developed countries. Moreover, the modernization of nuclear weapons arsenals and the collapse of the existing control and disarmament regimes are adding to the global threat scenario. At the same time, the growing roles of women, civil society organizations, and businesses, whose voices are amplified through modern communications technologies, offer new opportunities for effective peacebuilding and governance reform and renewal while more research illustrates the effectiveness of organizing and nonmilitary approaches to security. The complexity of the 21st-century challenges to global peace and security requires a far-reaching overhaul of a peace and security architecture with the United Nations at its core. This discussion, therefore, takes off with a set of proposed reforms to the peace and security architecture of the United Nations that were developed in expert discussions prior to the September 2020 Forum.

Reimagining the Global Human Rights and Humanitarian Architecture
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST

Though a latecomer to the United Nations system’s informal “pillar structure” (and despite fears of backsliding in recent years), human rights has assumed over the past two decades a central space on the United Nations Agenda, alongside more traditional concerns with peace and security and sustainable development. Similarly, with the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the worst refugee crisis worldwide since the Second World War, and proliferation of urgent human needs accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, the viability and design of the global humanitarian system has also moved to the forefront of international policy-making. This session will explore steps to reimagine and improve the global human rights and humanitarian architecture, leveraging the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary Commemoration and Declaration in novel ways to ensure that “We The Peoples” drive deliberations on the future of global governance.

Climate Governance: The Paris Agreement and Beyond
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 10:30 am - 12:00 pm EST

The currently inadequate global governance mechanisms leave humanity exposed to unacceptable levels of risk. Climate and ecological related risks are also interwoven with knock-on effects across other sectors. The window for action is narrowing for the international community, and the current situation calls for unprecedented levels of international cooperation and exponential action across every region of the world, and across the global economy. In response to these catastrophic risks, a number of new business models and technical solutions have been developed and are increasingly being accepted and implemented. However, a truly transformational shift away from a fossil fuel dependency will require global governance solutions that facilitate existing and new ways of delivering on policy goals as described in the Paris Agreement and beyond. This session will explore the leverage points in global climate governance which may allow for solutions to scale and to catalyze the necessary transformation.

A Global Civic Ethic, Countering Rising Nationalism, and The Future of Global Governance
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 12:00 - 1:30 pm EST

Especially in an age of rising nationalism, modernizing and making more inclusive our institutions of global governance requires more than creative, often technocratic proposals recommending new tools and structural change. True global governance transformation must be underpinned by a moral and ethical vision for a more just, inclusive, sustainable, and peaceful world. Drawing insights and teachings from major world religions, philosophers, public intellectuals, and other global civil society actors, this session will speak to the moral and ethical principles associated with growing emergence of a Global Civic Ethics and the accompanying notions of global responsibility and citizenship. The roots of -- and effective strategies for countering -- exclusive forms of nationalism (which undermine and erode efforts to strengthen global cooperation and responsibility) will also be explored.

The Future of Philanthropy in Global Governance
Day and time: Day 1, September 16, 12:00 - 1:30 pm EST

This lively and interactive session will feature leading voices in the philanthropic sector working, in partnership with civil society, the private sector, governments, and the UN system, to build a more inclusive, effective, and just system of global governance. The dialogue will be framed around the past and present advances in global governance philanthropy, as well as future considerations for philanthropy and global governance systems. It will consider how philanthropic institutions worldwide can best empower and catalyze other partners seeking to achieve progressive changes in the global governance architecture, to better address issues of equitable sustainable development, human rights, and peace and security.

Technology, Financing and Global Governance Partnerships for Good Global Citizenship
Day and time: Day 1, Sept. 16, 12:00 - 1:30pm EST

In this challenging time, the need for universal connectivity and inclusive finance is greater than ever before. With the backdrop of the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, this session will explore how rapid advances in technology for digital cooperation and new perspectives of global citizens (private and corporate, national and multinational) can advance a more fair global economy for the better. The speakers include thought leaders who are innovating how global collective action problems can be addressed in our hyperconnected global economy. This interactive dialogue will give special attention to transformative approaches for fostering a more secure, just, equitable, and environmentally sustainable recovery to the COVID-19 crisis.

Day 2: Thursday, September 17

Innovation Track
Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 9:00 am - 9:25 am EST

Brief summaries from this track’s four thematic pillars:

  1. Post-COVID Recovery and the Future of Global Economic & Social Governance
  2. Rethinking the UN’s Approach to Peace & Security
  3. Reimagining Human Rights, Humanitarian Action & Inclusive Governance
  4. Climate Governance: The Paris Agreement & Beyond

Partnership Track
Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 9:25 am - 10:40 am EST

Across the forum’s four pillars (peace and security, sustainable development, human rights, humanitarian action & inclusive governance, and climate governance), carefully curated partnerships held moderated discussions to explore new kinds of multi-stakeholder partnerships composed of UN system departments/agencies, states, the private sector, philanthropists, and broader civil society groups from all regions to serve as a catalyst for action.

The Forum convenors worked with the UN and impact-focused social networks to identify potential projects that would benefit from multi-stakeholder support. Once each potential project was identified, with a designated project lead, the Forum executed a series of steps, including the identification of key stakeholders to involve in the project and a series of bilateral and collective meetings designed to develop shared goals and interests among the group.

The partnership initiatives discussions were finalized with commitments for action both individually and collectively from the participating organizations. In this session, we will hear the reports from each of the 20 partnerships as they present their partnership initiative and commitments to action to advance and help raise the ambition of the UN75 Declaration. The presentations of the 20 partnerships advanced through the Partnership Track will be followed by a discussion with the Forum’s Honorary Co-chairs.

Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 10:40 am - 11:10 am EST

Presentation by youth leader of the Roadmap for the Future We Want & UN We Need: A Vision 20/20 for UN75

Closing Plenary Session: Bringing It All Together
Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 11:10 am-12:45 pm EST

This closing plenary will bring the intended goals and aspirations of the UN75 Global Governance Forum -- represented by leading voices from the Forum’s innovation and partnership tracks -- into dialogue with United Nations and other leaders. The interactive exchange will reflect on the discussions over the course of the Forum and its preceding gatherings, and it will aim to distill these insights into a conversation about what a future UN should and could look like.

Specifically, representatives of the forum’s innovation and partnership tracks will engage senior UN, civil society, and business community leaders in a deeper discussion on global governance solutions (both multilateral and multi-stakeholder in character, and building directly on the “20/20” proposals from the Forum’s innovation and partnership tracks) to re-invigorate the United Nations and support implementation of its new UN75 Declaration in a world of greater connectivity and collaboration. How has this happened through the Forum? How will it advance beyond the Forum and post-UN75?

Act of Creation: The Story of the UN’s Founding
Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 3:00pm-4:20pm EST

In his seminal book on the UN’s founding conference in San Francisco, Act of Creation, scholar Stephen C. Schlesinger tells a pivotal and little-known story of how U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius and the new American President, Harry Truman, picked up the pieces of the faltering campaign initiated by Franklin Roosevelt to create a "United Nations." Using secret agents, financial resources, and their unrivaled position of power, they overcame the intrigues of Stalin, the reservations of wartime allies like Winston Churchill, the discontent of smaller states, and a skeptical press corps to found the United Nations.

In this lecture and interactive discussion, the author will reveal how the UN nearly collapsed several times during the conference over questions of which states should have power, who should be admitted, and how authority should be divided among its branches. Mr. Schlesinger's presentation provides an overview of the remarkable delegates and extraordinary diplomacy that led to the successful establishment of the organization 75 years ago.

Global Cooperation in the Face of Increasing Ecological Threats: Presentation and Discussion on Key Findings from the “Ecological Threat Register”
Day and time: Day 2, September 17, 4:30pm-6:00pm EST

The Coronavirus pandemic and the increasing number of ecological threats around the world further lay bare global unpreparedness for many of the current and future crises humanity will face. What are those future crises, what will be their impact on peace, and what forms of global collaboration will most effectively help build resilience to a crisis at the national and regional level? This session will begin with a presentation of key findings from the 2020 Ecological Threat Register, an inaugural report from the Institute for Economics and Peace that synthesizes and visualizes data on environmental indicators that can impact levels of violent conflict.

The Register uses environmental and population projections to highlight threats that might be happening now or may occur in the coming decades. The project looks forward to the year 2050 and covers food, water, and climate change factors. This is combined with levels of societal resilience, as measured by the Institute’s Positive Peace Index, to estimate which countries, regions, and areas are most vulnerable and may face large population displacement due to environmental shocks.

Day 3: Friday, September 18

Reaching the Summit: Promoting the Potential of the UN75 Declaration
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 9:00am-10:20am EST

On September 21, the United Nations will commemorate its 75th anniversary. There are widespread expectations that this moment of stocktaking and reflection will also lead to much-needed efforts to renew multilateralism. The anniversary comes at a time of considerable disruption for the world, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. It is a moment that has few, if any, historical precedents. We have agreed to ‘build back better’, to ‘leave no one behind’, and to ‘reach the furthest behind first’ - however, consensus is lacking around what these phrases mean, let alone how to achieve them.

This session will focus on the UN75 Political Declaration alongside significant civil society contributions to mark the 75th anniversary. Can the commitments in the declaration serve as a turning point for the global community? Like the United Nations rising from the ashes of World War II, our response to today’s challenges has the potential to transform global governance to reflect a new reality. On the eve of September 21st, we have an obligation to present and future generations to begin building consensus towards an ambitious path ahead. This session will explore some of the steps needed to make this progressive vision a reality.

Community Peace as a Foundation of Security
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 9:00am-10:20am EST

If there is any issue more worrisome than ever before, it is security in all ramifications. Insecurity is felt in local communities; it is located in local jurisdictions and perpetrators either reside there or move in, seize the local system and develop therefrom. Global security challenges can be resolved by strengthening community governance. When each community, both rural and urban, is able to govern themselves, security challenges shall abate. The network of community security resilience shall link to attain the goal of global security.

The primary responsibility of government is the security and welfare of the people. African governments have been unable to unilaterally provide this public good due to a paucity of funds, poor governance and weak leadership. The emergent power of non-state actors can only do so much as their activities cannot cover all the communities and their needs. To harness the resources and competencies of community actors and the civil society, community governance may be the answer to respond to public health, climate change, economic and social needs and most importantly political security. Community actors must row while governments steer through rules and regulations. The roadmap leading to better community governance as the means to more effective global governance is a fundamental challenge UN75 must face.

One Earth System, One Heritage, One Pact: Stockholm+50, an Opportunity to Restore a Well-functioning Earth System/Stable Climate
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 9:00am-10:20am EST

As the window of opportunity for avoiding dangerous climate change is rapidly closing and scientists are warning about a planetary tipping point that can lie just ahead, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary (Stockholm+50) of the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) can be the last opportunity to make a conceptual evolution in international law, by bringing a new approach to the initiative launched by the Global Pact for the Environment (GPE). This represents a critical momentum to introduce new substantive content in the political declaration foreseen for this United Nations High-Level meeting, that can be a structural step to enable the restoration of a well-functioning Earth System/Stable Climate.

A new social and political Pact that introduces the Principle of the Integrity and Unity of the Earth System can be the legal basis to open the door for an innovative global governance model, based on future legal innovations like the recognition of the Earth System as Common Heritage of Humankind. The recognition of this truly intangible global commonality without borders will encourage the emergence of positive structural cascade effects on health, economy, social justice and international relations.

Empowering Traditional Conflict Resolution Mechanism in Peacebuilding
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 9:00am-10:20am EST

There is a growing understanding that it is crucial to utilize or empower the traditional conflict resolution mechanism (TCRM) in the context of post-conflict peacebuilding. Because it takes time for conflicted states to establish an effective modern justice system in addressing conflicts over resources such as water and land, it is important for conflicted states to empower the TCRM in responding to the grievance of the people. The question is “how”, especially when TCRM might have some components that would have some conflicts with UN values. This session aims to have discussions between prominent speakers and participants to find exact ways of improving people’s security and safety in post-conflict states, focusing on the question of TCRM. The session will also discuss the possible utilization of TCRM in addressing the pandemic in conflicted states.

Policy Review of a UN Parliamentary Assembly
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 10:30am-11:50am EST

A new policy review of Democracy Without Borders on the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) will be presented and discussed for the first time at this panel with members of parliament. A UNPA is proposed as an addition to the UN General Assembly that would allow elected representatives to be involved in matters of UN governance and increase democratic representation and accountability of the world organization.

Background reading: UN Parliamentary Assembly (PDF)

Reinventing the Role of International and Regional Organizations in Promoting Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Institutions in Times of Crisis: What has Been Done and What is Next?
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 10:30am-11:50am EST

During this session participants will discuss and take stock on results achieved and challenges still facing implementation of Goal 16+, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, this session will showcase the outcomes of global, regional and inter-regional initiatives that aimed at gathering best practices, challenges and opportunities, as well as policy recommendations towards the advancement of SDG 16+, under the current health crisis. It will explore and discuss how global and multi-stakeholder initiatives could further collaborate and partner with the United Nations and civil society to ensure implementation of Goal 16+ in the coming years. Finally, it will analyze and propose ideas on how to overcome the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to uplift multilateral action as an instrumental resource to bolster development in the coming years.

Cutting Costs of Remittances and Aid
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 10:30am-11:50am EST

Cross-border transfers are expensive, particularly for small amounts such as family remittances. The Covidrelated recession is negatively impacting many countries and the need to cut costs for such transfers is needed more than ever. Central banks can be key to this process, including an option to test CBDCs, or assign this role to a network of commercial banks. Aid payments, microloans, and diaspora investment programs can also benefit these countries. This session discusses how to increase net income by up to 10% through better management of the foreign exchange and transaction processing costs.

Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 12:00pm-1:20pm EST

Is there any hope for those who despair at the state of the world and the powerlessness of governments to find a way forward? Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century provides ambitious but reasonable proposals to give our globalized world the institutions of international governance necessary to effectively address the catastrophic risks facing humanity that are beyond national control. Principles of sensible governance that exist in well-governed national systems should be further extended to the international sphere: sound and functional rule of law, legislation in the common interest, an effective executive branch to implement such legislation, and deliberative/participatory decisionmaking.

The best protection is unified collective action, based on shared values, respect for diversity and national autonomy, to implement widely accepted international principles to advance universal human prosperity and well-being. This session will examine the future of global governance against the background of the most pronounced economic crisis since the Great Depression brought about by COVID19, growing evidence of accelerating climate change and what this all means for the role of international cooperation in helping us address these global risks.

How the Beijing Women’s Conference speaks to us today?
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 12:00pm-1:20pm EST

193 countries signed onto the Beijing Platform for Action at the historic United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. This policy document, combined with the legally-binding women’s human rights treaty CEDAW and the Sustainable Development Goal targets are the blueprint to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment. How does the UN Fourth World Conference on Women speak to the young generation today? Can this legacy help us to address the crises of our times, related to racial and gender inequality, unsustainable development, and threats to peace? If so, how? In this 4-part virtual event, we will deep dive into these questions. Through personal stories, we will engage an inter-generational dialogue centered around the three themes of the Decade for Women: “Equality”, “Development”, and “Peace”. A fourth event (likely to happen during CSW65) will be devoted to a grand finale of the previous 3 events, arriving at the fourth step to action.

Joining Capacities to respond to regional crises: Calling on Latin American and the Caribbean’s Regional Organizations?
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 12:00pm-1:20pm EST

The COVID-19 pandemic is having devastating impacts across Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries--exacerbating inequalities and expanding poverty rates that grow within a context of sinking economic growth rates. According to the World Bank, LAC's worst public health crisis of the century could provoke another "lost decade" for the region, with consequences having disproportionate effects upon the most vulnerable groups, including black people, indigenous groups, women, migrants, special needs, and low-income individuals.

In addition, social transformations such as the rise of new technologies and climate change present emerging challenges for the region, which is already feeling the impact of the intensifying automation of labor and increased frequency in disasters, to name only two phenomena. While there is considerable institutional capacity at the regional level, including the Organization of American States (OAS), Central American Integration System (SICA), and The Caribbean Community (CARICOM), it remains under-utilized. As we witness states attempt to adequately respond to the multiple and intertwined crisis unfolding in LAC, multilateralism could be better utilized to develop sub-regional responses especially in areas such as health, education and tourism.

To what extent regional arrangements are engaged in responding to crises in LAC, including COVID-19? What are some of the best practices of utilizing regional arrangements for addressing crises? Why is it so important to maximize a regional response and what could make them successful? What are some of the lessons learned and capacities needed to further strengthen regionalism in the LAC? How can good practices and lessons learned be utilized to improve regional responses to crises? Finally, how can the UN support regional cooperation in LAC within the context of ongoing reforms?

A fourth pillar for the United Nations? Protecting the United Nations by reforming counterterrorism
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 12:00pm-1:20pm EST

Over the past 20 years, a fourth pillar – counter-terrorism – has begun to emerge at the United Nations, through multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, a global strategy from the United Nations General Assembly, the rise of the countering or preventing violent extremism agenda, and the creation of a stand-alone UN Office of Counter-terrorism. The current effects and future implications of the United Nation’s embrace of counter-terrorism, given the mounting evidence of the harmful impacts of this agenda worldwide, need to be better understood and explored. Do the compromises the UN has struck threaten its ability to uphold its Charter, put its effectiveness of its work for peace, rights, and development on the line?

Conserving the Amazon: Financing and Sustainability
Day and time: Day 3, September 18, 12:00pm-1:20pm EST

If the Amazon rainforest is the center of the global water cycle yet near a deforestation tipping point, as recent studies suggest, then urgent conservation is needed. Economic analysis suggests that the forest should be worth more standing than cut, but the financial products reflecting such wisdom have not existed, until now. Together we will explore how to properly value the ecosystem and facilitate forest-friendly economic development, while securing government approval and protecting land rights of indigenous and traditional populations. We will discuss a four-part strategy, involving:

  1. Sustainably expanding local economies and investment opportunities
  2. Extending rule-of-law efforts and capacities through philanthropy
  3. Innovating carbon markets and ecosystem service payments, and
  4. Developing a global investor education campaign

These efforts will support both the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the UN Race to Zero Campaign.


Updated as of September 9, 2020

The UN75 Global Governance Forum seeks to promote a more inclusive and effective United Nations through dialogue and recommendations that better harness the ideas, capabilities, and networks of both state and non-state actors for achieving the UN’s commitment to peace, sustainable development, human rights, and a stable climate.