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Looking to the UN ‘Summit of the Future’ 2024

  • by JW

“The future depends on what you do today.” [Gandhi]


In a year’s time – September 2024 – the United Nations is planning to hold a Summit of the Future:

The Summit of the Future is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments including to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Charter, and move towards a reinvigorated multilateral system that is better positioned to positively impact people’s lives.

The full name of the session is The Summit of the Future in 2024: The Future ~ What Future? – as covered by the Resilience online magazine:

This brings to mind Mahatma Gandhi’s insightful comment: “The future depends on what you do today. The UN website calls for a summit “to forge a new global consensus on multilateral solutions to current and future problems.” The summit is a most timely initiative as we face unprecedented challenges, both in their globality and in their vast time horizon. As never before, our decisions are affecting not just the next century or two, but millennial or even geological time spans. How can we protect the future from the unprecedented pressures of the here and now?

UN General Assembly sets date and modalities for a Summit of the Future – UNFOLD ZERO

Meanwhile, the US political paper The Hill asks if the ambitious UN Summit of the Future will be just be a rehash of the past:

With little media attention, negotiations have begun for the United Nations’s September 2024 “Summit of the Future” in New York. This conference, which includes heads of state, reflects an ambitious plan by U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to address many major global topics, ranging from disarmament to climate change to economic development and more. Supporters compare it to the 1945 San Francisco UN-Founding Conference in hopes it will change the world forever. Detractors describe it as a U.N. talk-a-thon on a grand scale.

Last month, an event we hadn’t heard of was covered by Al Jazeera, where a commentator felt that “a corporate takeover” of the UN must be stopped:

The United Nations needs a revamp. There can be little dispute about that. And the UN’s September 2024 Summit for the Future is an ideal opportunity for this upgrade. The people of the world expect a global form of governance that can confront the unique challenges of the 21st century. The UN’s creaking, post-World War II structures have been struggling to meet the challenges of the modern world for a long time. The many crises we face demand that the UN evolves to meet these challenges.

But Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s vision for that evolution – as set out in his report to the General Assembly, Our Common Agenda – is ill-conceived and underwhelming. Instead of expanding access to the UN system to communities of people impacted by today’s crises, it gives more influence and power to corporate actors who are most culpable of bringing us to the precipice of ecological and social disaster.

Finally, despite the latest set-backs in planning the event, the Global Observatory asks: What Could a Successful Summit of the Future Look Like in 2024?

This was a very tough week for those negotiating the scope of the Summit of the Future, and we may well face many more weeks of uncertainty and further divisions amongst UN membership. Critics of the UN will be quick to argue that a successful summit is already out of reach, and may suggest we put our efforts into other processes. This would be a mistake. Though far from perfect, the UN remains the best place to create a blueprint for the future that reflects the needs of all people everywhere and “everywhen.” The next generation of humanity deserves a renewed effort to make the Summit of the Future a success.