76th Session of the UN General Assembly: Address by Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand at “Delivering the Common Agenda: Action to Achieve Equality and Inclusion” side event

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

E ngā mana, e ngā reo

Tēnā koutou katoa

Thank you to the Leaders Network, to Pathfinders, the Center for International Cooperation, and the governments of Spain and Sweden, for the opportunity to contribute to this important event on delivering the UN Common Agenda.

Three years ago I made my first speech to the UN General Assembly about the value of kindness. Two years ago I introduced New Zealand’s wellbeing approach.

This year, the world has changed immeasurably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are both more connected yet further apart.

Exclusion and inequality progress as the pandemic does.

Kindness and wellbeing are just as important, perhaps even more so.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, we have always tried to look out for each other, with compassion and empathy. Kindness has been the central tenet of our COVID response.

Yet we have not escaped the fact that some in our communities have been more impacted than others.

Crises such as COVID highlight the inequalities that already exist. This is true at home in New Zealand, and internationally.

We know that women bear a disproportionate burden, as do other people already at risk of being left behind. This includes children and young people, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and our rainbow communities.

In New Zealand we will continue to prioritise increasing inclusion and equality for all our people, while we mitigate the risks that COVID further exacerbates existing inequalities - including those experienced by Māori and Pacific peoples.

COVID-19 has also intensified and further complicated existing global challenges, including progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

For Pacific Island Countries, it has intensified economic and social development challenges, and compounded the threat climate change poses to livelihoods, security and wellbeing.

A commitment to kindness and a focus on wellbeing is even more important.

We need more collaboration, more examples of the international community prioritising our collective and global wellbeing over domestic self-interest.

International work to ensure equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is an example of this – although much work remains to be done. New Zealand will continue to support this effort through our funding to the COVAX Facility and our work with Australia and others to support full vaccine coverage for Pacific Island Countries.

We cannot strive for peace and stability without also striving for equality and rejecting hatred and exclusion.

Collectively, we need to strengthen inclusive and sustainable development, and prioritise a values-driven approach. This means accelerating action to achieve human rights, gender equality, the empowerment of all women and girls, and the sound stewardship of the environment.

We need to focus on equitable and inclusive approaches to build forward better – safeguarding and improving people’s well-being and building resilient economies, in ways that enhance rather than diminish our environment, and leave no one behind.

The pandemic has changed the magnitude and the urgency of the challenge, but our shared commitment to eliminating inequality and exclusion remains firm.

Working together with kindness, to ensure wellbeing for all, we can achieve equality and inclusion.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


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