UNITED NATIONS - With speakers of parliament from around the globe meeting at a moment when the world is gripped by multiple crises, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the legislators to help drive forward the new UN sustainable development agenda and ensure that civil society is equal partner in “building the future we want.”

“We are being challenged to strengthen our collective resolve to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights around the world,” the secretary-general Ban, told the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Fourth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament that UN member states took a bold step earlier this month in this direction by concluding negotiations on the “ambitious and transformative” agenda for the next 15 years.

Pakistan’s 14-member delegation is led by the acting Speaker of the National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi. He is scheduled to address the meeting on Tuesday.

The global parliamentary summit is held every five years. The current meeting will run through 2 September in New York and Monday’s opening session featured addresses from Ban, IPU President Saber Chowdhury, UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker.

In his remarks, the secretary-general said that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that form the basis of the new UN agenda are people-centred and planet-sensitive. They provide a plan of action for ending poverty and hunger, and a roadmap for building a life of dignity for all and they promise to “leave no one behind.”

Commending the parliamentarians of the world, and the IPU, for the valuable role they played in shaping the new framework, the secretary-general underscored that their contribution to its implementation will be equally critical in ensuring that the agenda is translated from the global to the national.

“People will look to you to hold your governments accountable for achieving the goals, and to write the laws and invest in the programmes that will make them a reality,” he said.

“As we embark on this new agenda, the state and civil society can and should be partners in building the future we want,” he said, emphasizing that the declaration the parliamentarians will adopt at the conference outlines their responsibilities in translating the voices of the people into meaningful action.

For his part, General Assembly President Kutesa said given their role as pillars of democratic governance, parliaments will have an important role in the implementation of the new development agenda.

Kutesa said, it will be essential to carry forward the unfinished business of the MDGs, which have been incorporated in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Parliamentarians will be essential to that effort, the assembly president said, also spotlighting the critical role they must play in the protection and preservation of the environment.

Other members of the Pakistan delegation are: Senator Aitzaz Ahsan; Senator Agha Shahbaz Khan Durrani, Aftab Shahban Mirani, Zahid Hamid, Junaid Anwaar Chaudhry, Mohammad Shahbaz Babar, Mrs Shahzadi Umarzadi Tiwana, Arshad Khan Leghari, Mohammad Riaz and others.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, hosted a working dinner in honour of the delegation on Sunday night at which the members were briefed about issues before the conference as well as the arrangement.