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Busy day ahead for Trudeau at UN General Assembly

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If you think your Wednesday is going to be busy, pour one out for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada’s to-do list at the United Nations? Confronting the climate crisis, helping Ukraine defeat Russia and eradicating global poverty, among other things.

Trudeau will take in a UN Security Council debate on the way forward in Ukraine, where President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to speak.

At a climate ambition summit, Secretary-General António Guterres is expected to hold leaders to account on what they’re doing to confront the emergency.

Trudeau will also take part in high-level meetings on creating new finance models to help the developing world find sustainable solutions.

And he’ll join Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault at an event aimed at helping developing countries deal with their carbon emissions.

“The time has come for all of us to step up and understand: the future is expecting us all to meet this moment,” Trudeau said Tuesday at a meeting on the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Those goals, established in 2015 as the UN’s road map for a safe, equitable and peaceful world, include lofty ambitions like eliminating poverty and hunger, guaranteeing clean water and ending inequality.

But progress has largely stalled, hampered by political intransigence, sluggish post-pandemic economies and the escalating problem of conflict in both Ukraine and the developing world.

Trudeau gently urged leaders to get serious about achieving those targets.

“They’re not some wish list generated by academics of global nice-to-haves. They are the building blocks of success in each and every one of our countries and each and every one of our communities,” he said.

“The truth is, they will get harder and more expensive the longer we drag our heels.”

The theme for this year’s assembly is “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity” — two commodities that even Guterres admitted Tuesday are lately hard to come by.

“Our world is becoming unhinged,” Guterres said during his opening address. “Geopolitical tensions are rising. Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond.”

Emergencies, on the other hand, are plentiful.

The climate crisis grew ever more real in 2023, with a record-setting wildfire season in Canada, catastrophic flooding in Libya and a record 23 separate billion-dollar weather disasters in the U.S. in just the first eight months.

Russia’s war in Ukraine grinds on, the global angst augmented by last week’s ominous meeting in Vladivostok between President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

And the uneasy truce of the UN’s own Black Sea grain deal has collapsed, all but cutting off the developing world from one of the planet’s most vital sources of food, cooking oil and fertilizer.

“When hatred is weaponized against one nation, it never stops there,” Zelenskyy told delegates, one of whom happened to be Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN.

“The goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into weapons against you — against the international rules-based order.”

He said tens of thousands of Ukrainian children have been repatriated by Russia since the invasion began and are being taught to “hate Ukraine,” an indoctrination he described as “genocide.”

Reinforcing the international coalition of support for Ukraine was also one of the U.S. president’s main goals.

“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? The answer is no,” Joe Biden said.

“We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

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