Fijian Ambassador to head UN General Assembly

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Peter Thomson of Fiji has been elected President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Implementing a new global agenda for sustainable development will be among the chief aims of the newly elected President of the UN General Assembly.

Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji was on Monday voted in to lead the body, which brings together all 193 UN Member States.

Dianne Penn reports.

Applause in the General Assembly as Ambassador Peter Thomson of Fiji took the podium following the secret ballot.

He is the first person from the Pacific small island developing states, or PSIDS, to hold the post.

Ambassador Thomson heralded it as a great moment for the PSIDS, who he said bring "special perspectives" on issues related to climate change and oceans.

He assured Member States that while he was supported by small islands and the G-77, the block of developing countries at the UN, his presidency is one “for the whole house."

He said countries are bound together in realizing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"That is what lies ahead for us in the 71st session: the implementation of that Sustainable Development Agenda.  That is the high purpose of the 71st session: to get momentum on that agenda. By the end of the 71st session, we must be accountable; we must have progress on all 17 of the SDGs. And that is going to require transforming systems; it's going to mean overcoming structural and intellectual barriers. We have to implement that agenda. It's there for the good of our children and our grandchildren. Without it, their future will be in jeopardy. With it, we will have a sustainable place on the planet."

The Fijian ambassador was one of two candidates vying for the post, receiving 94 votes.

Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis of Cyprus garnered 90 votes.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’40″

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