Jetlagged Justin Trudeau is shifting gears from mourning the emperor to making the world safer for democracy — and it’s only Tuesday.
The Prime Minister was in New York City this morning for the start of the Leader-level talks at the 77th United Nations General Assembly.
Trudeau arrived in the US late Monday, several days after personally attending Queen Elizabeth’s London funeral.
His UN agenda is filled with meetings on subjects close to his heart: climate change, gender equality and sustainable development, among others.
He will also participate in a roundtable with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on inclusive job growth.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine is sure to permeate every discussion about economic growth and food security — two other Trudeau priorities.
And if the words of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are any indication, this year’s meeting will be seized with a sense of urgent crisis.
“The General Assembly is meeting at a time of great danger,” Guterres said last week as the meeting was underway.
The war in Ukraine is entering its eighth month, as the economic and social consequences of the conflict reverberate around the world.
The lasting effects of COVID-19 are hitting hard among the world’s poor, even as climate change reshapes the face of the planet in tragic and disturbing ways, Guterres said.
He described a recent trip to flood-ravaged Pakistan, where erratic monsoon rains have killed more than 1,500 people, injured more than 12,700 and destroyed more than 1.8 million homes.
“What is happening in Pakistan demonstrates the inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis and the betrayal and injustice at its heart,” Guterres said.
“Whether it’s Pakistan, the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, small islands or least-developed countries, the world’s most vulnerable countries – who did nothing to cause this crisis – the big emitters are paying a terrible price for decades of intransigence. “
With violent, extremist rhetoric online virtually unchecked, Guterres said that in some parts of the world, the fight for gender equality is going in the wrong direction.
“Our world is blighted by war, wracked by climate chaos, seething with hatred and shamed by poverty, hunger and inequality.”
He explained that traditional UN values are being “devoured by the acid of nationalism and self-interest,” including political figures who are “playing with people’s worst instincts for partisan gain.”
And he identified a global economy that “penalizes the lowest” and the fossil fuel industry that “kills the planet the most.”
Trudeau’s two-day agenda includes work to advance the 17 goals of the United Nations’ sustainable development effort, of which Trudeau is co-chair.
Those global goals include climate action, eradicating poverty and pollution, promoting gender equality and equitable economic growth.
Trudeau will join New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron at the “Christchurch Call Summit,” an effort to counter the online spread of violent extremism.
He will be on hand for events previewing the COP15 conference on biodiversity in Montreal in December.
On Wednesday, Trudeau will attend a pledging conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to which Canada has pledged $4 billion since 2002.
Canadian lawyers are asking the prime minister to pay an extra $1.2 billion this year.
The fund supports developing countries in limiting and treating preventable diseases, the leading causes of death in many regions — which are once again on the rise.
Officials in International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan’s office said another financial commitment was forthcoming, but did not provide details.
Trudeau also plans to meet this week with Caribbean and other regional partners to focus on fostering sustainable growth in Haiti.
He will also see Joe Biden in person at an event for leaders hosted by the president and his wife — their first face-to-face encounter since the US abandoned a Made-in-America plan to sell more electric vehicles.
This report was originally published by The Canadian Press on September 20, 2022.
— With files from Dylan Robertson in Ottawa