UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- As the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on Tuesday opened its 76th session, and UNGA President Abdulla Shahid urged member states to embrace hope and initiate a new narrative after a challenging year with climate change, conflict, and COVID-19.
"It has been a tragic and challenging year, but this is a new session," said Shahid. "We can fall back on the comfort and predictability of systems and procedures, of the United Nations machinery that fills our days, or we can choose to push forward and turn the page. We can choose to write a new chapter."
"Let us choose the latter; let us dare to dream and let us dare to hope, to embrace the presidency of hope," he said.
Highlighting the challenges ahead, he said hundreds of millions have fallen ill, millions died, and billions suffered from the pandemic, with news arriving daily to ignite the world's collective anxiety about climate change, disasters, conflict and instability.
"The narrative must change, and we must be initiator for that change; the General Assembly must play a part of this," he said, emphasizing that the United Nations is as relevant today as it was 76 years ago.
Declaring that he embraced hope as the theme of his presidency, he said, "while the pandemic unleashed an unprecedented crisis, we have witnessed incredible acts of kindness and compassion, acts that reaffirmed our common humanity and collective strength as 'nations united.' This is the narrative we must tell."
Spotlighting five rays of hope that will shape the 76th session's agenda, he said vaccinating the world is the top priority.
In this vein, he plans to convene a high-level thematic debate on vaccine equity, noting that the host country has offered vaccines to United Nations staff and delegates, and New York City is offering vaccinations to those attending the high-level week later this month.
The second ray is post-pandemic rebuilding that is bluer and greener, he said, adding that he will work with the Economic and Social Council in this regard.
He then announced plans to convene a climate conference and a related high-level thematic debate. Gender equality is another priority, he continued, noting that he will only participate in gender-balanced panels and will lead efforts to bolster youth participation.
The fifth ray of hope aims at ensuring that the United Nations remains a forum for all, including civil society and youth, he said, pointing out that his office is gender balanced, with representatives from 30 countries from all regions. Enditem