• The Listener
  • North & South
  • Noted
  • RNZ

Jacinda Ardern delivers debut UN speech: 'We're all in this together'

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has made a speech to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York this morning.

Jacinda Ardern has delivered her debut speech to the United Nations this morning, kicking off with a traditional Māori, greeting. 

She used her 15 minutes on the floor of the General Assembly to make a strong case for multilateralism and the need for the international community to work together.

"Any disintegration of multilateralism - any undermining of climate-related targets and agreements aren't interesting footnotes in geopolitical history - they are catastrophic.

"That's why as a global community, not since the inception of the United Nations has there been a greater example of the importance of collective action and multilateralism, than climate change."

Ms Ardern spoke about New Zealand's remoteness, but she said: "isolation hasn't made us insular". She talked about how international trade had helped lift millions out of poverty but said it hadn't necessarily raised the standard of living. She said the correct response wasn't to repeat the mistakes of the past, like protectionism, but to ensure the benefits of trade were more evenly spread.

Watch Jacinda Ardern talking leadership and motherhood with CNN:

Ms Ardern said across the globe young people were feeling like their political institutions were failing them, and that they were looking for change. She returned to the subject of climate change, highlighting that as an example. Ms Ardern spoke of the recent Pacific Islands Forum meeting and how there was agreement that the biggest security threat to the region was from rising sea levels.

She said New Zealand was determined to play its part in fighting climate change, and that it had already stopped permits for off-shore oil drilling, established a green infrastructure fund and was committed to planting one billion trees.

She repeated a theme from a speech she delivered at the beginning of this week's UN trip, where she said her aspiration was for New Zealand to become the best place to be a child. Ms Adern also addressed women's rights, talking about New Zealand's progressiveness in this area - but also the gender pay gap and domestic violence.

"It seems surprising that in this modern age we have to recommit ourselves to gender equality, but we do.

"And I for one will never celebrate the gains we have made for women domestically, while internationally other women and girls experience a lack of the most basic of opportunity and dignity.

"Me Too must become We Too."

The Prime Minister's speech followed another she made overnight to the International Conference on Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

It followed similar themes to her UN speech, talking about what New Zealand was doing, "in our corner of the world", to grow and share more fairly the country's prosperity. She highlighted Labour's Families Package and commitment to closing the gender gap and raising the minimum wage.

Ms Ardern also said economic gains meant little if it came at a cost to the environment. She explained that New Zealand was transitioning to being carbon neutral, with the aim of achieving that by 2050.

Follow Noted on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.