Remarks at a UN General Assembly Informal Plenary Debate on Protecting Our Planet and Being Prepared for the Future

Ambassador Chris Lu
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform
New York, New York
March 3, 2022


On behalf of the United States, I am pleased to address “Our Common Agenda’s” proposals for protecting our planet and preparing for the future.

It is critical that the United Nations stays focused on long-term problems like climate change, while at the same time remaining agile enough to respond to emergencies like the one occurring in Ukraine. As 141 countries affirmed yesterday, Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of the UN Charter and is just the latest emergency requiring a UN response.

It is therefore timely that the Secretary-General has proposed an emergency platform to respond to complex global crises.  We need to explore new approaches to boost the UN’s capacity to address emergencies in the immediate term and support conflict prevention and resilience in the long term.

We applaud the Secretary-General’s tireless encouragement of Member States and stakeholders to implement the Paris Agreement and take concrete action to address the climate crisis. It has never been more urgent for us to redouble our efforts to fight climate change which drives food insecurity and migration, and to halt the staggering loss of biodiversity on which global health and livelihoods ultimately depend.

In recent decades, infectious disease outbreaks have mobilized partners to enhance global health security and pandemic preparedness and response. However, COVID-19 has demonstrated that we need to do more. We must further strengthen political leadership, governance, and financing for these critical issues and build more resilient health systems. We must step up efforts to close gaps in the implementation of and compliance with the International Health Regulations and better coordinate international public health measures, especially as we begin negotiations on a meaningful WHO instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

“Our Common Agenda” has the potential to inspire collective action to safeguard our planet and future generations. To realize this vision, we must proceed strategically and identify priorities in areas where the UN has a comparative advantage. We must respect current legal obligations, leverage existing programs and forums, respect the mandates of other international organizations, and be cognizant of budgetary limitations.

Thank you.