The UN Secretary-General (UN SG) has appointed Mr Guy Ryder as Under-Secretary-General (USG) for Policy. Mr Ryder will spearhead the delivery of Our Common Agenda (OCA), the UN SG’s ambitious vision for reinvigorated global solidarity. The new USG is facing no small task in having to achieve shared outcomes across all stakeholder groups – Member States, civil society, and the private sector.
The OCA process is set to culminate in a Leaders’ Pact for the Future, which will be shared at the Summit of the Future in 2024. The event seeks to secure fresh commitments, catalyse action, and deliver a large package of reforms across various global issues. Some of its anticipated outcomes include:
- A Global Digital Compact.
- A New Agenda for Peace, including in cyberspace.
- A Declaration on Future Generations.
- Peaceful, secure, and sustainable use of outer space.
- A new Emergency Platform for humanitarian crises and response.
- More effective multilateral agreements.
Aside from these high-level outcomes, OCA’s workstreams cover a broad range of issues. While Member States would traditionally be the primary agents implementing UN agreements, multiple OCA workstreams seek to integrate private sector ownership. Some of the initiatives include: aligning business practices to progress the Sustainable Development Goals; applying human rights frameworks to prevent harms in the digital or technology spaces; encouraging the private sector to reduce absolute emissions and negative biodiversity impacts; advancing multi-stakeholder governance arrangements; and creating new public-private partnerships to uphold standards of good environmental, social, and corporate governance.
Preparations for OCA’s outcomes are underway. The UN SG has tasked UN agencies to lead individual workstreams and progress commitments across stakeholders. There are ongoing Member State consultations, and further substantive multi-stakeholder negotiations will take place in 2023. A high-level Ministerial conference will also take place on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September 2023 to take stock of the process and secure broad buy-in.
Looking ahead, Our Common Agenda and the Summit of the Future have the potential to galvanise systemic solutions for collective problems. They offer the opportunity to renew global governance through the active and sustained engagement of Member States, civil society, and the private sector. There is momentum to generate dynamic dialogue for a new global deal, but it will require participation from all.