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During her participation in the opening session of the 78th General Assembly in New York (UNGA78), Minister for Development Cooperation and Major Cities Caroline Gennez focuses on the major policy priorities of Belgian development cooperation: equal access to welfare states, with a focus on health care, decent work and social protection; the fight against the climate crisis and for the sustainable development goals; and equal rights for all, especially for girls and women. To this end, Belgium is working with international partners, including civil society, the EU and UN agencies, such as UNICEF, OCHA and UNHCR.
On Sunday, Minister Gennez participated in the Global Accelerator on social protection and jobs and the Spotlight Initiative on ending violence against women. Today, Belgium, with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Employment Dermagne and Minister Gennez, is chairing a Group of Friends on Decent Work at Belgium's Permanent Representation in New York.
A key theme for Belgium, both in New York and during the upcoming Belgian presidency EU2024, is universal access to affordable and quality healthcare. Mental health will take centre stage on Tuesday during a side event that Minister Gennez will co-host for Belgium, with partners UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and Bhutan. H.M. Queen Mathilde will make opening remarks there in her capacity as SDG Advocate. On Thursday, Minister Gennez will take part in the 4th ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends on Universal Access to Health Care and on Friday the minister will organise a Round Table on access to health as a basis for resilience, including during climate disasters and crises. Minister Gennez will also highlight Belgium's commitment on prevention and consequences of climate change (Loss&Damage) and participate in a side event (of EUDEL) advocating for increased funding for humanitarian and emergency assistance through OCHA.
Dialogue with other regions to face major challenges is at the heart of the Belgian delegation's programme at UNGA78. Minister Gennez will have a series of bilateral contacts, focusing on the protection of human rights, the Least Developed Countries, the Great Lakes Region, the Sahel and Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez : "The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are commitments to which all countries pledged in 2015. We promised each other to make progress in the fight against poverty and for equal rights for all - men, women and children - social protection and universal health care. But we are not on track. The overarching theme of this year's Sustainable Development Goals summit and UN General Assembly is therefore the restoration of trust and a renewed commitment to international solidarity and cooperation. And I can only welcome that. But after much back-and-forth debate, it is now time for action."
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