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United Nations Sommaruga represents Switzerland in New York

Sommaruga emphasised Switzerland’s role in focusing the SDGs on key issues including access to clean water, health, gender equality, peace, migration, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable production and consumption. 

(Keystone)

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga is in New York City this weekend for the adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentexternal link, as well as the opening of the 70th UN General Assembly on Monday.

At a summit on Friday attended by over 150 government leaders, the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)external link – comprised of 169 targets – were officially launched. The SDGs follow on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)external link for 2015, which were established in the year 2000 with the aim of reducing extreme poverty worldwide.

Sommaruga spoke about the three-year process of negotiating the goals of the agenda, which she described as “a programme of the people, by the people and for the people”.

Michael Gerber, Switzerland’s lead negotiator for the development agenda, said in a statement: "We are very satisfied with the outcome of the negotiations. Considered as a whole, the 2030 Agenda is in line with our priorities and positions“.

"Populism is poison for democracy"

On Saturday, Sommaruga spoke on the rule of law, transparency and civic participation at a high-level event organised with the Institute for Democracy and Election Assistance (IDEA). The German language NZZ newspaper quoted Sommaruga as saying that "populism is poison for democracy", and that the phenomenon of populism is on the rise in many European democracies, including Switzerland.

The president also met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called Switzerland an "example” to other countries when it comes to shaping political processes for sustainable development. 

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter joins the president in New York on Sunday. He will be attending several events during the coming week, including bilateral talks with UN foreign ministers. 

On Monday, Sommaruga will attend the opening of the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, where she will present Switzerland’s foreign policy priorities for 2016.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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