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UNGA 2022: Why the Global Conversation is More Important Than Ever

By Rob Acker September 14, 2022

If you’re conscious about the state of the world and curious how cross-sector partnerships can make a difference, I encourage you to look at New York City over the next two weeks. Because yesterday, the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) opened at the UN headquarters: the largest gathering of world leaders, and a prolific environment for truly global conversations.

For a lot of reasons, UNGA is especially important this year: It’s the first in-person assembly since the outbreak of COVID-19, which makes it the first true in-person gathering from a multi sector perspective, with heads of government, heads of business and heads of civil society. And what they are going to be discussing is the health of the world. We’re coming out of the acute stage of the pandemic, but COVID hasn’t gone anywhere: In many African countries, the numbers are just as high as they always have been, we’re struggling with new mutations of the virus, and the vaccine hasn’t gotten everywhere where it’s needed. Those global leadership conversations are still as passionate now as they were this time last year. 

Added to that, we have the complexities of a war in the Western Hemisphere, which has led to the largest migration and refugee crisis since World War II, and an economic crisis, largely driven by the sanctions on energy that are affecting the entire world. How is the world going to deal with an energy crisis, a recession and the economic implications coming out of the pandemic?

Another omnipresent topic is the conversation around immediate climate action and the impact of climate change. How can we weigh the economic uncertainties that we face as a global society with our fight for climate? The cost of Net Zero is significant and we’re asking the world to put that in front of significant economic adversity. 

And then there’s the overall theme of the summit, which is education. This is a paramount conversation right now, because you cannot tackle a single one of these issues without a transformation of education — not just in Western society, but globally. 60% of the world’s youth are living in Africa without proper access to education, and also in other regions of the world we’re still feeling the impact of two and a half years of young people being out of education due to the pandemic.

On top of this, we’re dealing with social unrest in many Western societies, political division, and a total distrust in leadership and media. There is a need for a conversation on a global scale in a way that we’ve never had before since World War II, and that’s why UNGA is so important this year, because the United Nations were set up to provide a balance between nations, and to ensure that every single member has an equal voice. 

As the representative of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres is delivering that equal voice. He is the only person in the world that will give that balanced view which represents each one of the member nations in equal weighting. What he says is not just being said from one country, one party perspective or one company. It’s been said from a true global perspective. That’s why we have to listen to his voice, and I’m truly looking forward to his address on September 20th.

Why Businesses Need to Get Involved to Improve the State of the World

Businesses have a responsibility to give back to society, especially since we’re seeing a level of trust in business which we’ve never seen before. There are so many political divisions, so many changes in governments’ direction and policy, and so much disappointment in the behavior of some of our elected officials globally. Marry that with the reporting in the media and the fact that only 29% of people trust the media in the United States.

Businesses have been gaining trust by focusing on transparency, doing the right thing, driving stakeholder value — and in doing so actually significantly driving shareholder value. There is an opportunity for CEOs to become not only business leaders, but to partner with government and media to lift trust in them back up, to be the glue between media, civil society, government and mission critical challenges. That’s why it’s so heartening to see so many CEOs participating in UNGA, because it’s highlighting not only their commitment to these values, but that business has got a place to play in this concept of improving the state of the world.

Salesforce has always believed that one of the strongest powers that businesses have is to support improving the state of the world. We also know there is no one single mechanism, one single company that will solve all the world’s problems. We can only do it in partnership, by coming together and learning from each other when we all lend our expertise.

We’ve seen time and time in our community how our technology innovation came together with our customers and their mission, our partners and their knowledge of the sectors, to truly support making incredible things happen. And we are so heartened that our global partners are participating in the events that Salesforce is supporting during UNGA. Yes, the headquarters of the United Nations is in New York — but this is a global conversation. From a societal perspective it’s so impressive how the global society leaders are actually looking to UNGA to have these conversations. They’re there, they’re invested. They’re in it. And so are we.

I’m truly looking forward to the next two weeks and I’m so honored to be a part of the conversations and events that will be happening in New York. One of them is especially close to my heart: In 2017, we highlighted the incredible story of (RED) and the Global Fund on the stage at Dreamforce. And this year, we are so proud to continue this special partnership, at the same time as Dreamforce but on the UNGA stage, by convening the heads of delegation at the Salesforce tower in NYC to support raising $18 billion towards eradicating HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Here’s to UNGA 2022! Follow along as the most important global conversation is happening and get involved with the topics you care about. Because the challenges that we’re facing are affecting every single one of us — and we all have to work together to solve them.

Learn more about how everyone can contribute to transform the world for the better in our recent blog post about PeaceTalks.