By Lizzy Okoji
The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), Prof. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, says the visions of the 74th General Assembly of ensuring peace, poverty eradication, education for all and climate action are key factors to attaining global development.
He made this known in a special interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday, during his first official visit to Nigeria as President of the General Assembly.
According to him, the 74th General Assembly choose these priority areas among others because they are the major drivers to achieving global development, which is what the world yearns for.
He said that the visions aligned with that of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, which when achieved, could spur global development.
He added that “it should be almost something predictable that a Nigerian or an African will focus on peace and security and climate action, among others.
“Peace is key, without which there can be no development and of course, climate action is important.
“At every General Assembly, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, made the issue of climate change an important element of the country’s priority in terms of efforts to the global community to work together to address it.
“Poverty is a serious affliction because the poor find themselves at the receiving end of those who want to deny them their rights, the poor also have difficulties advancing in school.
“Poverty is key and if you are able to address poverty, half of the problems of society will be addressed.”
He said that for Nigeria and Africa, these were obvious things but they were also important because in 2015 when the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed to, it was also agreed that the basic targets should be achieved by the year 2030.
He added that “no country is fully there, but the gaps between countries in terms of achieving the goals are still huge.
“And for some countries, the issue is simply financing, for others, it is climate issues and others, it is conflict.
“Whatever the case, getting sustainable development is key. Achieving the goals is one means of bringing peace to the world because it addresses inequality issues, hunger, health issues, equal access to justice and partnership.
“The General Assembly provides space for countries to converge and to review and to discuss all issues.”
He emphasised that there was nothing of importance to humanity that is not under the purview of the UN as a body, “and it is involving us all and setting the norms.
“For example, right to education is key, right to healthcare is key, right to live in peace is also key.”
Muhammad-Bande said that his Presidency in the UN General Assembly would work toward ensuring that every child had access to basic and quality education.
He commended Nigeria for leading global efforts in the past years to recognise education through the celebration of the negotiation of the resolution concerning International Day of Education.
The UNGA president said that climate action, which was also on the front burner required the collaboration of countries to adequately tackle, a platform which the UN had already provided.
He noted that climate action was an important call, not only for Nigeria and Africa but the entire world.
He explained that climate change although not the only factor, but was a major contributor and leading cause of conflict across the globe.
He said that a good example of climate change resulting to conflict was the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East.
“The shrinking of the Lake Chad is one element of that change and the implications of that is well known to Nigerians.
“It is not a theory that the nature of the place has changed from what it used to be 30 or 40 years ago; you see what is there now and the conflict it degenerated.
“Climate change is one major driver of that conflict in the North East.” (NAN)
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