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Dr.  Judy Kuriansky
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Dr. Judy Kuriansky:

Black Tie UN SDG Summit weekend Sept 2023
Dr. Judy Kuriansky
Dr. Judy Kuriansky
Black Tie UN SDG Summit weekend Sept 2023

Half-way to the "World We Want"

It’s the half-way mark in this year 2023 until the year 2030 to achieve the Global Goals agreed in 2015 by all 193 Member States governments of the United Nations who pledged to 17 goals including to eradicate poverty and hunger as well as to achieve gender equality, good health and well-being, education for all, climate action and more. Do you think we will achieve all that by 2030? 

Stakeholders gathered September 16-17 at the UN headquarters in New York to “accelerate action” – meaning to step on the pedal – at the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Summit and Action Weekend. Progress has been drastically set back during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the WHO exhibit about SDG 3 on Health and Wellbeing for All, in the UN plaza: Sierra Leone is in the forefront, of health, education, and gender equality and more!  Proudly representing the country, we are from left: Sierra Leone Government Youth Envoy Yulisa Ahmadu: Francis Koroma, Founder & President at his Francis Koroma Foundation, Youth Speaker at the UN, and runway model; and me, and me, Dr Judy Kuriansky, Advisor to the Mission of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the UN.

Judy Kuriansky

Amused at both being in pink -- but not because of the “Barbie” movie -- says Ambassador Maria Fernanda Espinosa, former UN President of the General Assembly and former Ambassador of Ecuador to the UN, now Executive Director of (advocacy group for gender equality), in matching color with UN youth representative Francis Koroma! I happily reminded her that she once graciously gave a shout out to my students who attended a meeting at the UN and invited them to a private meeting in her UN office.

Judy Kuriansky

 Delighted to see my good friend, the amazing Amna Al Abdulla from the United Arab Emirates, Acting Director of the Corporate Communications and Strategic Relations at Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre who oversees the UAE Global Council’s, of which I was co-chair of the Global Council on SDG 3 on Health.

Judy  Kuriansky

Amna’s youth assistants who assisted me during the recent World Government summit in Dubai, where I spoke on a panel..


The halfway mark was an appropriate time to premier the independent film “The Agreement” about the process of adopting the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable Development, back in the years 2014-2015. 

Judy Kuriansky
judy kuriansky
Images from the film

I recalled fondly with Ambassador Donoghue and Nikhil Seth how I had hosted the most gala celebration right after the Agenda was adopted, at the Friars Club, giving the most elegant awards to all the high-level people involved in the process.

judy kuriansky

Awards gala I hosted (center in blue) for the major players in the UN Agenda negotiation process. 

Deputy Secretary-General Amina J Mohammed with her award
Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed with her award

The film premier showing was held at a special Global Goals exhibit hall on the grounds of the UN, with 17 “doors” symbolically opening to each of the 17 goals. It was so nostalgic to reconnect and take a photo with some of us present during that time 2014-2015.

Judy Kuriansky

Reunited (left to right): John Gilroy, Climate and Sustainable Development Lead in the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN who sat every day of the negotiations behind His Excellency David Donoghue, standing next to him, who was the co-chair during the 2015 “Intergovernmental Negotiations” for the UN Agenda 2030 with Ambassador Macharia Kamau of the Mission of Kenya to the UN. Next: Elizabeth Cousens, now President and CEO of the UN Foundation who was then Principal Policy Advisor and Counselor to the Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN and later served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN Economic and Social Council and Alternate Representative to the UN General Assembly where she led U.S. negotiations on the SDGs. Next: Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Executive Director of UNITAR, who sat at the podium throughout the Agenda negotiations in his role as Director of the Division for Sustainable Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) at the UN Secretariat. Next: me (Dr. Judy Kuriansky), then lead mental health advocate during the negotiations on behalf of the International Association of Applied Psychology and the Psychology Coalition, partnering with Palau Ambassador Dr. Caleb Otto to insure successfully that mental health and well-being was included in the final agenda (and who got “wellbeing” into the Goal 3 title!). Next: my good friend Dr. Patrick Paul Walsh, Professor of International Development Studies of the School of Politics and International Relations in University College Dublin who was a lead on behalf of one of the Major Groups during the Agenda negotiations.  All of us felt such nostalgia about being “reunited” today after such intense times of the Agenda negotiations and the “touch and go” every day, hours on end, hoping that all countries would agree to such detailed promises for the world.

Judy Kuriansky, Patrick Paul Walsh, me, and HE David Donoghue

Patrick Paul Walsh, me, and HE David Donoghue


The baton for the agreement at the half-way mark for achievement of the Agenda was passed on from the Mission of Kenya and Hungary in 2014, and Kenya and Ireland in 2015, to Ireland and Qatar for this 2023 Summit and declaration.

Judy Kuriansky

The current co-chairs of the UN SDG Summit: Her Excellency Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani; His Excellency Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of the Ireland to the United Nations to the UN; and me, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, now Advisor to the Ambassador of the Mission of Sierra Leone to the UN


Speakers at the film premier:

Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) Amina J. Mohammed
Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) Amina J. Mohammed, then-special advisor to the Secretary-General (SG Ban Ki-Moon at the time) about the Agenda who played a major role during the negotiations, and who had also been supportive of mental health

The panel:

HE Elizabeth Cousens, Nikhil Seth, HE David Donoghue, DSG Amina J. Mohammed and Brookings Institute

Left to right: HE Elizabeth Cousens, Nikhil Seth, HE David Donoghue,
DSG Amina J. Mohammed and Brookings Institute

HE Fergal Mythen speaking at the film showing
HE Fergal Mythen speaking at the film showing
Judy Kuriansky

Screenshots I captured quickly while watching the film “The Agreement”

macharia kama
H. E. Csaba Körösi, Ambassador Macharia Kamau
H. E. Csaba Körösi, co-facilitator of the 2014 Open Working Group negotiations, now immediate past President of the General Assembly, with H.E. co-facilitator Ambassador Macharia Kamau of the Mission of Kenya
Nikhil Seth, co-facilitators Ambassadors Donoghue and Kamau,

Nikhil Seth, co-facilitators Ambassadors Donoghue and Kamau,
with support staff behind, John Gilroy

Samantha Power
Samantha Power

Ambassador of the US to the UN Samantha Power (2013-2017) during the negotiations currently serving as Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID)


Other country representatives in the negotiations:

judy kuriansky
judy kuriansky
judy kuriansky
judy kuriansky

Throughout the film were sound bites of my dearest best friend at the UN during those times, His Excellency Ambassador and Permanent representative of the Republic of Benin to the UN Jean-Francis Zinsou, who was negotiating on behalf of the Least Developed States.  As DSG Amina Mohammed recalled on the panel, he was a touch negotiator, making sure the rights of the LDCs were represented and holding out til the end of the negotiations, so when he finally agreed, everyone cheered.  He was my staunch supporter for mental health being included in the Agenda, and his son Joel  was at my side throughout all the two years of the negotiations, and has been my assistant to this day for all these past years!  Ambassador Zinsou has been so proud of him!  I was devastated when HE Zinsou died a few years ago.  Many dignitaries gave moving dedications to him for the memorial video that Joel and I produced, including many people at this event today, HE Donoghue, HE Elizabeth Cousens, ASG Nikhil Seth;
also HE Kamau and even then-SG Ban ki-Moon sent a message.

Ambassador Zinsou

Ambassador Zinsou with his son Joel, who was my assistant during the negotiations for the Agenda in 2015


Also captured in the film (though I missed to screen shot) was my other dearest best friend at the UN during those times, H.E. Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Mission of Palau to the UN, Dr. Caleb Otto, who led the campaign to ensure that mental health and wellbeing was accepted by all the governments!  Even Ambassador Donoghue remembers how, after a long day of tough negotiations, he could call on Ambassador Otto and say in his honor  we all need a moment for our mental health.  Going to Ambassador Otto’s funeral in Palau and Ambassador Zinsou’s funeral in Benin was a huge tragedy for me; I cannot understand why two of the most amazing men who did so much for humankind would be taken from this earth.

Ambassador Otto and me in the UN Conference Room during the negotiations

Ambassador Otto and me in the UN Conference Room during the negotiations


Everyone at the event today and the film screening agreed it will take a concerted collective effort to reach the Global Goals by the target date of 2030.

Youth will play a role!


judy Kuriansky

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