Annual Meeting 2021

Toward a Fit for Future UN System
Global Virtual Event | 24-26 June 2021

The 2021 Annual Meeting will explore anew a series of themes critical to the UN’s relevance and legitimacy, one year after the world organization commemorated its 75th anniversary. Across the global landscape, many are calling for action to improve human security, dignity, social justice, global public health, protection of basic human rights, and multilateral cooperation. Despite many obstacles, we are entering an era of renewed commitments to a “Common Agenda” for multilateral engagement, heralding the promise of a UN system that is truly “fit for future.”

Opportunities abound to realize a future UN system that delivers on systemic change for the betterment of the human condition and global peace. Indeed, as the world organization prepares for its centennial in 2045, the demand has grown more urgent to chart new pathways, innovate and engage in future-oriented approaches to address and resolve the multiple and complex global challenges facing humanity today. The 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now more than a half-decade in their realization. UN Secretary-General Guterres has recently released insights and proposals, based on his year-long Global Conversation with civil society, to the substantive themes comprising the UN75 political declaration. In September, he will present his Our Common Agenda recommendations, as mandated by the General Assembly. The challenges of advancing these mighty global goals and commitments have been greatly complicated by climate change, endemic poverty, global health pandemics, armed conflict, and state inaction.

In 2021, we ask: how can we make the UN system “fit for future,” and the UN itself “fit for purpose”? How can scholars, practitioners, science and technology experts, and community-based actors collaborate more fruitfully in devising integrative pathways that will result in growth and prosperity for all? How should these challenges be tackled, and by whom? In the face of nationalist populist social and political forces, how can we repair the economic, technological, and geostrategic fault lines and the growing bifurcated conflictual world order? As the Secretary-General has asked, what types of innovations would catapult individual donor and agency pursuits beyond the realm of narrow interests and toward aligned, collective action forged through common vision, analysis, implementation, and assessment? In what ways can beneficiary communities be integrated meaningfully into the strategic and field-level pursuit of development and dignity? How can and should the prevailing norms associated with sustainable human development, climate governance, and humanitarianism be infused throughout these endeavors?