The road to the UN’s Summit of the Future



Published 2024-06-26

The UN's Summit of the Future will take place on September 22-23, 2024, bringing together world leaders to discuss and address major global threats. The Global Challenges Foundation will actively participate in and support initiatives to reduce catastrophic risks by improving global governance.

A Global Success Story at Risk

Humanity has spread across the globe, growing in numbers and living longer lives. In general, our time on Earth has been a success story. Over the past two hundred years, our collective resources have increased significantly. But the question remains: How long will this success last, and for whom? We have often treated each other poorly, and our impact has already meant the end for many species—now, even our existence on this planet seems threatened. How will we manage the risks and inequalities that have arisen along the way together?

The consequences of climate change, environmental degradation, pandemics, and weapons of mass destruction know no borders. Shared challenges require shared solutions; perhaps this sense of common destiny can bring us together.

Our Common Agenda

When world leaders gathered to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UN’s founding, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined what the organization needed to address the world’s problems and risks better. This initiative resulted in Our Common Agenda, which identified several areas requiring special attention; these included sustainable development, climate action, a new peace agenda, digital cooperation, space governance, global crisis management, and a declaration for future generations. 

Guterres emphasized that humanity faces a choice between “breakthrough or breakdown.” A High-Level Advisory Board, chaired by former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was established to concretize the proposals. Germany and Namibia are now facilitating the Pact for the Future, which will be decided by world leaders at the UN Summit of the Future in September.

What is the Summit of the Future?

The Summit of the Future is a high-level event where world leaders will forge a new international consensus to deliver a better present and safeguard the future. This unique opportunity aims to restore trust and show that international cooperation can effectively tackle both current and emerging global challenges.

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Supporting Global Governance

The Global Challenges Foundation aims to reduce global catastrophic risks through improved worldwide governance and has supported this process. We have done this by enabling researchers to showcase what is at stake, supporting the Secretary-General’s office, providing opportunities for member states to participate, and enabling civil society to engage. The current focus areas include an enhanced science-policy interface, reform of international finance architecture, emergency platform, strengthened UNEP mandate, and reform of peace-building architecture. The planetary boundaries for human life on Earth should be a part of all these areas.

Our collective responsibility is now to ensure that the UN system suits its purpose. The outcomes of this unique meeting in September will have long-term implications that could result in nothing less than a ‘breakdown or breakthrough’.

  • Jens Orback, Strategic Advisor, Global Challenges Foundation

    Jens Orback

    Strategic Advisor, Global Challenges Foundation

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