Bill Gates among key speakers as UN week comes to Expo 2020 Dubai

For the first time, the Global Goals Week will held outside of the UN General Assembly in New York

On Saturday, at 6.30pm, Al Wasl Dome will light up to mark the event and a youth manifesto will be presented. Photo: Victor Besa / The National
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Bill Gates will be among the speakers taking part in the UN's Global Goals Week at Expo 2020 Dubai, the first time the event will be hosted outside the UN General Assembly in New York.

Mr Gates, who will attend remotely, will be joined by UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed at the event, which begins on Saturday.

Each year, government leaders, activists and academics gather to discuss the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

These are 17 global goals that countries hope to achieve by 2030. They include clean energy, quality education and gender equality.

Maher Nasser, commissioner general of the UN at Expo 2020, said 192 countries have a presence at Expo.

“Expo is currently the world premiere event taking place in the middle of the pandemic, with 10 million people already having come here, and where leaders are coming. We thought that it is probably most appropriate for the Global Goals Week to be held outside of New York for the first time,” he said.

“It is an opportunity in the second year of the Decade of Action to accelerate action towards the SDGs, to sit and reflect on what has been achieved, what are the challenges and how can we overcome those so that by 2030, we can look at the world with no poverty and no hunger.”

Mr Nasser said that it was clear even before Covid-19 that the world was not on track to meet the goals, but the pandemic further derailed the efforts.

He said that for that first time since 1990, the number of people living in extreme poverty had increased by more than 100 million.

“And we have seen a troubling rise in inequality on social and economic indicators,” he said.

“That’s why we are pushing with the Global Goals Week in New York and here.

Mr Nasser said the week would be a way to urge further action from "governments at different levels, individuals, businesses and by leadership of all sectors, so that we really try to come back on track because that's the world that we want to be – one with no poverty, a world where everybody thrives in peace, dignity, and on a healthy planet".

On Saturday, at 6.30pm, Al Wasl Dome will light up to mark the event and a youth manifesto will be presented. Ms Mohammed will address the public live on the same day.

The flagship event will take place on January 16, and will focus on increasing commitments to ensure this is a decade of action.

Speakers will include Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and director-general of Expo 202 Dubai.

On January 17, the women’s majlis will take place and will feature two panels. These will include New Zealand’s former prime minister Helen Clark and Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway.

The event will be streamed live on Virtual Expo.

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Updated: January 10, 2022, 1:20 PM