Council discussion with H.E. Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly


Introductory remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

OECD, Paris, 18 November 2016

(As prepared for delivery)



Excellencies, dear colleagues,


It is a great privilege to welcome His Excellency Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly to the OECD, along with his team, Ambassador Christensen and Ms Strickland-Simonet.


Last month marked the eighteenth anniversary of the OECD's permanent observership of the UN General Assembly. Turning 18 is always a special milestone. For us, this coming of age coincides with a strengthening of the relationship between the OECD and the UN family which we are all proud of.


Little over a year ago, we witnessed a series of momentous agreements in the multilateral arena: the Addis Abba Action Agenda, the SDGs, and the COP21 Paris Agreement – to name only a few. And while reaching these agreements was not always easy, the real hard work comes with implementation.


Ambassador Thomson has made implementation of the 2030 Agenda a top priority for his presidency, building on the achievements of his predecessor, Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark.


In the short time that he has been President, Ambassador Thomson has convened a dedicated SDG implementation team in his office, and has released a strategic plan to support SDG implementation. The OECD is privileged to be associated with the work of his Presidency, and of course Marcos Bonturi plays an important role in this regard.


Earlier this week, Ambassador Thomson opened COP22 in Marrakech, underscoring his commitment to the fight against climate change. Indeed, as a former Ambassador of Fiji, he has first-hand experience of the impact of climate change on people, on livelihoods, and on development.


On many of these agendas – and others – I firmly believe that the OECD can continue to make a contribution.


In the last few months, we have seen several joint initiatives with the UN gathering momentum: Tax Inspectors Without Borders is beginning to bear fruit for its pilot countries; just last month we launched the National Urban Policy Programme with UN-Habitat in Quito; and in two weeks’ time we will gather in Nairobi for the High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, an initiative that the OECD is proud to support alongside UNDP.


Dear colleagues,


When the UN Secretary-General visited the OECD last year, he underscored the enormity of the challenges all countries will face in implementing their commitments. National governments must continue to show leadership in their implementation. And when it comes to the SDGs, this of course includes OECD countries.


Recent discussions here at the OECD have illustrated how governments are still digesting the implications of the SDGs for their own planning and policy-making. One thing is clear though: we must sustain the momentum that was created last year. I would like to convey my appreciation for Ambassador Thomson’s vision and leadership in this regard.


Prior to his election as President of the General Assembly, Ambassador Thomson served as Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN and, concurrently, ambassador to Cuba. During his time in New York, he has been a Chair of the G77, as well as a President of the UNDP Board – to mention just a couple of the important offices he has held. In addition to his distinguished service in both foreign affairs and rural development, he also has extensive private sector experience in the Pacific region.


Ambassador Thomson, welcome again to the OECD. The floor is yours.



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