“Your strong engagement during our deliberations today reaffirms that multilateralism is neither dead nor obsolete,” said Dennis Francis in his opening remarks to a preparatory meeting for next year’s Summit of the Future.

Scheduled for September 2024, it is billed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvigorate multilateralism, address gaps in global governance, and reaffirm existing commitments, including to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN Charter.

Recent global shocks – including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the climate emergency – have tested international institutions, underlining the critical need for unity around shared principles and common goals.

‘A unique opportunity’​

“The Summit of the Future is a unique opportunity to help rebuild trust and bring outdated multilateral institutions and frameworks into line with today’s world, based on equity and solidarity,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“But it is more than an opportunity,” he added. “It is an essential means of reducing risks and creating a safer and more peaceful world.”

The Summit has its origins in Our Common Agenda, the Secretary-General’s 2021 report outlining his vision for the future of international cooperation “through an inclusive, networked, and effective multilateralism.”

The report aims to “turbocharge” the push towards the 17 SDGs – the global promise to deliver a more just, equitable and greener future for all people and the planet by 2030.

Although progress has been derailed by the pandemic and other crises, a “rescue plan” agreed this week aims to get them back on track.

Pact for the Future​

At the Summit, countries are expected to adopt a Pact for the Future that covers five areas: sustainable development and related financing; international peace and security; science, technology, innovation and digital cooperation; youth and future generations; and transforming global governance.

Mr. Guterres commended their pledge to advance human rights, the empowerment of women and girls, and acceleration towards achieving the SDGs.

To support the negotiations, he has published 11 policy briefs that build on proposals contained in Our Common Agenda.

“The Pact for the Future will be your contract with each other and with your people,” he said. “It represents your pledge to use all the tools at your disposal at the global level to solve problems – before those problems overwhelm us.”

Education activist Varaidzo Kativhu addresses the preparatory meeting for the Summit of the Future at UN Headquarters in New York.

Education activist Varaidzo Kativhu addresses the preparatory meeting for the Summit of the Future at UN Headquarters in New York.

‘Start talking to us’: Youth advocate​

Varaidzo Kathivu, a girls’ education activist and youth advocate from Zimbabwe, welcomed the Pact’s focus on future generations.

Over half of the world’s population is under 30, representing the largest generation of young people in history. They need a real seat at the table when it comes to decision-making she declared, sitting next to the UN chief.

“Please stop talking about us and start talking to us. And not only talking to us but working with us,” she said.

“We want to be recognized as true and equal partners who have a stake in this just as much as you. We want to help get these Sustainable Development Goals back on track. And we are more than talented, willing and capable.”