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Opening of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC / Ministerial Segment of HLPF


  • H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC

Performance by Gruppo Jobel - Art for Earth

Message from children on SDGs

Opening remarks:

  • H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC

  • Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

  • H.E. Ms.María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the General Assembly

Keynote speakers:

  • Ms. Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders

  • Mr. Richard Curtis, Screenwriter, Producer and Film Director, UK, SDG Advocate

  • Mr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment

Transmittal of the ILO Centenary Declaration on the Future of Work by H E. Mr. Jean-Jacques Elmiger, President of the 108th International Labour Conference

H.E. Mr. António Guterres
Secretary-General, United Nations
H.E. Mr. António Guterres

Secretary-General, United Nations

António Guterres, the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations, took office on 1st January 2017.

Having witnessed the suffering of the most vulnerable people on earth, in refugee camps and in war zones, the Secretary-General is determined to make human dignity the core of his work, and to serve as a peace broker, a bridge-builder and a promoter of reform and innovation.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary-General, Mr. Guterres served as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, heading one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations during some of the most serious displacement crises in decades. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and Yemen, led to a huge rise in UNHCR’s activities as the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution rose from 38 million in 2005 to over 60 million in 2015.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Guterres spent more than 20 years in government and public service. He served as prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, during which time he was heavily involved in the international effort to resolve the crisis in East Timor.

As president of the European Council in early 2000, he led the adoption of the Lisbon Agenda for growth and jobs, and co-chaired the first European Union-Africa summit. He was a member of the Portuguese Council of State from 1991 to 2002.

Mr. Guterres was elected to the Portuguese Parliament in 1976 where he served as a member for 17 years. During that time, he chaired the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, and later the Parliamentary Committee for Territorial Administration, Municipalities and Environment. He was also leader of his party’s parliamentary group.

From 1981 to 1983, Mr. Guterres was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, where he chaired the Committee on Demography, Migration and Refugees.

For many years Mr. Guterres was active in the Socialist International, a worldwide organization of social democratic political parties. He was the group’s vice-president from 1992 to 1999, co-chairing the African Committee and later the Development Committee. He served as President from 1999 until mid-2005. In addition, he founded the Portuguese Refugee Council as well as the Portuguese Consumers Association DECO, and served as president of the Centro de Acção Social Universitário, an association carrying out social development projects in poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon, in the early 1970s.

Mr. Guterres is a member of the Club of Madrid, a leadership alliance of democratic former presidents and prime ministers from around the world.

Mr. Guterres was born in Lisbon in 1949 and graduated from the Instituto Superior Técnico with a degree in engineering. He is fluent in Portuguese, English, French and Spanish. He is married to Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, Deputy Mayor for Culture of Lisbon, and has two children, a stepson and three grandchildren.

H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King
Seventy-Fourth President of the Economic and Social Council
H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King

Seventy-Fourth President of the Economic and Social Council

Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King, who comes to diplomacy from the private sector, has lived and worked in several Caribbean countries, the United States of America, and China. She is a small business owner, business strategist, the author of three books, and a management accountant with more than two decades of professional experience. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and chemistry, is the immediate past chair of the Investment Promotions Agency of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Invest SVG), and a former Honorary Consul for Portugal to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Since becoming Permanent Representative in September 2013, Ambassador King has held several leadership roles which include:

  • Chair/Spokesperson of L69 (2016 - present), the largest reform group for the Security Council Reform of the United Nations.
  • Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council for the period 2017-2018.
  • Chair of the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly of the 71st Session (2016 - 2017). At the time of her chairmanship, she was only the second woman to chair this committee in the history of the United Nations.
  • Immediate-past chair of the Island Women Open Network (IWON) (2014 - July 2018). The IWON is tasked with ensuring gender-mainstreaming in the renewable energy sector of Small Island Developing States by building capacity at the grassroots and community level. The IWON is a part of the SIDS DOCK Secretariat platform. SIDS Dock is a UN registered SIDS International Organization.

H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés
President, UN General Assembly
H.E. Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President, UN General Assembly

The President of the seventy-third session of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, has more than 20 years of multilateral experience in international negotiations, peace, security, defence, disarmament, human rights, indigenous peoples, gender equality, sustainable development, environment, biodiversity, climate change and multilateral cooperation. She has served Ecuador as Minister of Foreign Affairs (twice), Minister of National Defence, and Coordinating Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage.

In those capacities she coordinated the Sectorial Council on Foreign Policy and Promotion, which includes the Ministries of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, Foreign Trade, and the Environment. Ms. Espinosa Garcés was Chair of the Group of 77 and China until January 2018, and also served as Chair of the Andean Community. At the fifty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, she promoted the adoption of the resolution presented by Ecuador entitled “Indigenous women: key actors in poverty and hunger eradication”. She was a chief negotiator at the sixteenth and seventeenth Conferences of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where she facilitated the adoption of key elements in the outcome document entitled “The future we want”.

As Minister of National Defence of Ecuador, Ms. Espinosa Garcés participated in debates on women, peace and security, and promoted the creation of the South American Defence School of the Union of South American Nations, among other initiatives.

In 2008, she was the first woman to become Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York. During that posting, she cofacilitated the Working Group on the revitalization of the work of the General Assembly at its sixty-third session. She also led efforts at the global level towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

As Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, she led and supported various negotiation processes at the Human Rights Council. She chaired the work of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Geneva, and at the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP 21) on Climate Change in Paris.

Ms. Espinosa Garcés was Special Adviser to the President of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Constitution of Ecuador in 2008 and Regional Director (South America) and Adviser on Biodiversity (Geneva) at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In both positions, she worked for approximately 10 years on various initiatives at WIPO and WTO; participated in negotiations on intellectual property, and traditional and ancestral knowledge; and supported the Andean Community and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization on strategic management and sustainable development.

Before beginning her political and diplomatic career, Ms. Espinosa Garcés was Associate Professor and Researcher at the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador. During her time in academia, she received scholarships and grants from the Latin American Studies Association, the Ford Foundation, the Society of Woman Geographers and the Rockefeller Foundation towards her research in the Amazon. She also received awards from the German Agency for Cooperation, Deutsche Gesellschaft fϋr Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and Natura Foundation for her research work.

Ms. Espinosa Garcés has written over 30 academic articles about the Amazon region, culture, heritage, sustainable development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, regional integration, defence and security. She has studies from Rutgers University. She holds a master’s degree in social sciences and Amazonian studies and a postgraduate diploma in anthropology and political science from the Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador, as well as a bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador.

Mr. Hoesung Lee
Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment
Mr. Hoesung Lee

Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment

Dr. Hoesung Lee is Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), elected since October 2015 and professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment, Seoul, Korea. His research encompasses the economics of climate change, energy and sustainable development. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Korean Academy of Environmental Sciences, council member of the Global Green Growth Institute, steering committee member of the Innovation for Cool Earth Forum Japan and a member of the Asian Development Bank President’s Advisory Board on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Lee was the founding president of the Korea Energy Economics Institute -- a government agency for national energy policy development. He was Distinguished Research Fellow at the Korea Environment Institute, senior adviser to the Minister of Energy and Resources and the Minister of Environment, senior fellow at the Korea Development Institute and economist at Exxon Company USA. He served as the president of the International Association for Energy Economics, president of the Korea Resources Economics, member of the International Advisory Board of the Battelle-Pacific Northwest National Lab, USA, the Board of Directors of Hyundai Corporation and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan. He was Co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III (the socio-economic dimensions of climate change) for the Second Assessment which provided a scientific basis for the UNFCCC’s Kyoto Protocol. He served as Vice-Chair of IPCC 2008-2015, lead author and review editor for the various IPCC assessments. He has served on many national and international committees addressing climate change and energy. He received B.A. from Seoul National University and Ph.D. in economics from Rutgers University, USA.

Mr. Richard Curtis
Screenwriter, Producer and Film Director (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), SDG Advocate
Mr. Richard Curtis

Screenwriter, Producer and Film Director (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), SDG Advocate

Richard Curtis is a film writer and director, responsible for films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Mr Bean, Love Actually, The Boat That Rocked, and most recently Trash, About Time and Yesterday.

In the other half of Richard’s life he is co-founder and vice-chair of Comic Relief, which he started after visiting Ethiopia during the 1985 famine and led to the fundraising event, Red Nose Day. He has co-produced the 16 live nights for the BBC since 1988 and the charity has made over £1.3 Billion for projects in the UK and internationally during that time. In 2015, he helped bring Red Nose Day to the United States with the partnership of NBC and Walgreens - where it has so far raised nearly $150 million to help children in the USA and round the world.

Richard was a founding member of Make Poverty History, the campaign for the MDGs and worked both on that and on Live 8 in 2005. In 2015 he helped found Project Everyone to work to make the Global Goals famous and effective - and is now a UN Advocate for the SDGs.

Ms. Mary Robinson
Chair of The Elders
Ms. Mary Robinson

Chair of The Elders

First woman President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; a passionate, forceful advocate for gender equality, women’s participation in peace-building and human dignity.

  • President of Ireland 1990-1997

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights 1997-2002

  • Institutional reformer: brought the human rights agenda into the core of United Nations activities

  • UN Envoy on Climate Change 2014-15

  • Chancellor of the University of Dublin

  • Current UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate

"Part of the wisdom of the Elders is to remind the world that we actually have universal values that are accepted by every government in the world and yet they are not being implemented."

Work with The Elders

Mary Robinson has been a member of The Elders since the group was founded in 2007 and makes it a priority to bring the concerns of ordinary people to the global stage.

She has travelled to the Middle East several times with The Elders to encourage peace efforts and support Israelis and Palestinans working for peaceful coexistence; visited

the Korean Peninsula to help ease tensions between North and South Korea and learn more about North Korea’s chronic food crisis; joined an Elders' delegation to Côte d'Ivoire to emphasise the importance of reconciliation following widespread civil conflict in early 2011.

In 2012 she visited South Sudan to meet leaders, civil society and refugees from recent fighting, urging a return to dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan. Later that year she was part of an Elders' visit to Cairo to encourage Egypt's democratic transition.

A tireless champion of women’s equality, she also travelled to Ethiopia in June 2011 with her fellow Elders to convene an international meeting of experts and activists working to end child marriage, which was followed by a visit to India in February 2012 to support youth activists tackling early marriage in their own communities.

Mrs Robinson also participated in the Elders+Youngers project, an intergenerational dialogue on sustainable development between four Elders and four young change-makers during the Rio+20 summit in June 2012.

In October 2012, Mary Robinson was on the Elders delegation visiting the Middle East to draw attention to the imperilled two-state solution in Israel and Palestine and to lend their support to the Egyptian democratic transition.

First woman President of Ireland

Mary Robinson was elected Irish President in 1990 and served for seven years as a principled and transformative leader who continued to fight for equality and women’s rights throughout her time in office. A firm believer in dialogue and reconciliation, she broke taboos by being the first Irish head of state to make official visits to Britain, as well as regularly visiting Northern Ireland.

She was the first head of state to visit Somalia following the crisis there in 1992, and brought global media attention to the suffering of Rwandans as the first Head of State to visit the country just after the 1994 genocide.

Human rights champion

As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), Mary Robinson integrated human rights into the United Nations system and became renowned as an outspoken voice dedicated to investigating and exposing human rights abuses across the world.

Mary Robinson founded Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, which aimed to put human rights standards at the heart of global governance and to ensure that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable are addressed on the global stage.

As an academic, legislator and barrister, Mary Robinson has always sought to use law as an instrument for social change, arguing landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights as well as in the Irish courts and the European Court in Luxembourg. A committed European, she also served on expert European Community and Irish parliamentary committees. In 1988 Mary Robinson and her husband founded the Irish Centre for European Law at Trinity College, the University of Dublin. Ten years later she was elected Chancellor of the University.

Tackling global issues

Mary Robinson heads the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, a centre for education and advocacy on sustainable and people-centred development in the world’s poorest communities.

She co-founded the Council of Women World Leaders, a network that mobilises women leaders at the highest levels to promote democracy and gender equality. She is a member of the Club of Madrid, a group of global leaders working on governance and conflict issues. She is also:

  • Former President of the International Commission of Jurists

  • Board Member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

  • Board Member of the European Climate Foundation

Mary Robinson served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa from 2013-2014, stepping down in July 2014 to take up the post of Special Envoy for Climate Change. She continued in this post until the end of December 2015 which saw the successful conclusion of the COP21 Climate Summit and the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In May 2016, Mary Robinson was appointed as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate, along with Macharia Kamau of Kenya, to focus the world’s attention to meet the urgent challenges posed by extreme weather events on the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

H.E. Ms. Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC
Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
H.E. Ms.María Fernanda Espinosa, President of the General Assembly
Ms. Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders
Mr. Richard Curtis, Screenwriter, Producer and Film Director, UK, SDG Advocate
Mr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Endowed Chair Professor at Korea University Graduate School of Energy and Environment
United Nations