The 2023 United Nations Day Concert held inside the UN General Assembly Hall celebrated the adoption of the 1945 UN Charter and focused on mobilising global action in support of the world’s most vulnerable nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Hosted by the Kingdom of Tonga and organised with support from the PVBLIC Foundation, The Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, The Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) the concert featured internationally renowned cellist Michael Fitzpatrick, Tongan youth scholars from the Mana Academy, and the world premiere of the Environmental Symphony: The Movement – a multimedia symphonic experience featuring the New York Orchestra Ensemble and conductor Julien Benichou.
During the event, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres drove home a poignant message demanding action in his opening remarks:
“While we enjoy this moment of music, culture and creativity, let us reaffirm our shared commitment to a cause that becomes more urgent by the day: climate action,” said Secretary-General António Guterres. “This unprecedented challenge transcends borders and affects us all. The most vulnerable communities are bearing the brunt of extreme storms and droughts, changing weather patterns, and increased food insecurity. Tonight, let the music remind us of our shared humanity and interconnectedness. Together, let us redouble and accelerate our efforts towards a safer, greener, more sustainable, more peaceful world.”
Following the Secretary-General’s comments, H.E. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, emphasised the importance of this year’s occasion:
“Climate change is both pervasive and varied, reaching each of us, but presenting itself to us in different forms,” noted President Francis. “What is true, irrespective of how it manifests itself, is that it is threatening our very survival and that of other species on this planet. And nowhere is this more evident and more present than in small island states.”
H.E. Viliami Va’inga Tōnē, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations and host of the 2023 UN Day Concert concluded the concert’s opening speeches by highlighting the role that island nations have in the battle against climate change. In his remarks he stressed the importance that data and geospatial information play in this fight, and touted Tonga’s participation in the SDG Data Alliance. He ended by calling on world leaders to mobilise support for COP28 in Dubai and the SIDS4 summit in Antigua and Barbuda.
“These must not just be events; rather, they must be launching pads of climate action that change humanity’s trajectory,” declared Ambassador Tōnē. “Yes, it is true – we live in a world of divisions and factions. But here, in this General Assembly Hall, we are reminded that we are united nations. We are one people, who have come together from across the globe and embraced the belief that we can collectively achieve peace and prosperity in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.”
Prior to the concert, PVBLIC Foundation co-hosted a High-Level Reception with AOSIS as part of its Family Offices for Sustainable Development initiative. The reception gathered family office leaders from across the globe along with UN Ambassadors representing island nations. The goal was to amplify support for the strategic tripartite agreement signed by PVBLIC Foundation, AOSIS, and Antigua and Barbuda during the United Nations General Assembly which will lead to the creation of a SIDS Global Data Hub. An inter-regional platform, the SIDS Global Data Hub will help 39 AOSIS Member States establish or improve national data centres and create SDG Data Hubs to enhance decision-making, build capacity, track progress, and strengthen the amount and quality of public, private and international development finance.
Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, Executive Chairman of PVBLIC Foundation, championed the reception’s theme in his remarks.
“Data is a human right, an asset class and the frontlines of climate action. And it is what the world’s most vulnerable countries rely on to combat the climate crisis and achieve resilience and prosperity. So as we unite with leaders from every island nation in the world to join the SDG Data Alliance and build country-led data hubs, we ask you to help us build the foundation for a World Data Alliance that empowers every government across the globe to achieve their climate goals before it is too late.
The reception program also featured representatives from the host countries of COP28 and SIDS4, who urged attendees to support their efforts to drive tangible progress towards climate goals during these important upcoming global convenings.
“While science tells us there is a rapidly closing window to course correct, we have before us a key moment in time where we can agree to scale up climate action, and to create climate-positive investments that catalyse a growth trajectory to achieve shared prosperity,” said Counsellor Mohammad Bastaki from the Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations. “Let us rally with optimism and with the will to deliver real results for a historic outcome at COP28.”
H.E. Aubrey Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, reinforced the importance of the upcoming once-a-decade summit that will convene all 39 heads of state from small island developing states in Antigua and Barbuda next May.
“Island nations continue to stand alone, and just barely, as the stiff headwinds of increasingly challenging times bring dark clouds over an already uncertain future. We gather in Antigua and Barbuda next year for the fourth SIDS Conference in an unparalleled bid to change the course of our fortunes as we stand treacherously close to the tipping point of a climate crisis,” stated Ambassador Webson. “SIDS4 is a rallying point for us to signal to the world that the time is now for us to adopt meaningful and uncompromising action in saving Small Island Developing States. We can no longer wait, making the Antiguan conference a crucial and pivotal endeavour,” Ambassador Webson added.
Highlighting the importance of “genuine, durable partnerships,” H.E. Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru, Chair of AOSIS and Permanent Representative of the Independent State of Samoa to the United Nations, called for urgent action to address the climate crisis.
“SIDS recognize that the challenges they face require new, innovative, bold, and sustainable approaches and partnerships for economic, social and environmental transformation,” stated Ambassador Luteru. “They also acknowledge that multi-stakeholder partnerships are crucial in building resilience, reducing disaster risks, and achieving sustainable development and climate change adaptation. To this end, leveraging North-South and South-South, including SIDS-SIDS cooperation, is essential to access technical and technology transfer, advance trade and investment relationships and accelerate inclusive economic growth.”
The 2023 United Nations Day Concert can be viewed on the United Nations YouTube Page. The organising partners will continue to host high-level events during COP28 to sustain momentum in support of SIDS4, the SIDS Global Data Hub, the expansion of the SDG Data Alliance and the urgent action needed on climate action.
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