UN General Assembly September 2023

Lord Collins of Highbury Excerpts
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, on the question of attendance, there was high-level attendance from the United Kingdom, led by the Deputy Prime Minister. As the noble Lord may well be aware, it is not the first time that has happened and it is not uncommon. The Deputy Prime Minister led the delegations in 2010 and 2013, and the Foreign Secretary did so between 2001 and 2004 and in 2006 and 2007.

The important element was the discussions and some of the outcomes. The noble Lord is right that conflicts persist around the world. I argue that we are seeing a record number of conflicts around the world, certainly in my time as a Minister. There is a need for early intervention and prevention but also engagement and conflict mediation. The structures are there but they need reform, and the United Kingdom has been at the forefront of that, including supporting Secretary-General Guterres’s common agenda for the future. It is important that we get the sustainable development goals back on track, because they are important to deliver. When you see progress being made there, it needs not just the focus of one country or two countries but a collective unity to ensure that we meet the challenges we currently face.

Lord Collins of Highbury Portrait Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab)
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My Lords, the SDGs are a vital agenda that, it was agreed, would be completed in 2030. World Food Day was on Monday, and it is a reminder that conflict and climate change threaten the progress that we have made and that this country has led on. The global food summit being held on 20 November is a chance to put this back in the leadership race and make sure that other countries take seriously the nutrition challenge, which is a multiplier in delivering on the SDGs. Can the Minister tell us that he will work with other Governments to ensure that next year’s Nutrition for Growth summit, which is scheduled to be in Paris, will be an opportunity to put things back on track so that we are able to deliver that 2030 agenda?

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I recognise the important role the noble Lord plays on this important issue. I agree with him on the SDGs; only 15% of the current SDG targets for 2030 are on track. Many have gone into reverse or stalled. Therefore, they require those important commitments.

I agree with the noble Lord on the food security summit, and the UK delegation highlighted hunger during high-level week. The UK has previously hosted the global food security summit and we are focused on delivering those important outcomes. I know the noble Lord agrees with me on this. Summits alone do not deliver outcomes. We have COP 28 coming up and we know the climate challenges. It requires promises and commitments that have been made to be fulfilled, particularly for countries that cannot help themselves. It is important that we stand up and help them.