With the talk-show preliminaries over, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to the lectern at the UN General Assembly to call out the rising tide of unwillingness to fight climate change and gender inequality.
Ardern opened and closed her address in te reo Māori, and referred to New Zealanders as a “self-deprecating” people who were not wowed by status, but instead said "our empathy and strong sense of justice is matched only by our pragmatism”.
As anticipated by previous remarks this week, Ardern dedicated a fair chunk of her speech to climate change and the desperate need for “collective action and multilateralism” globally. Without actually singling anyone out, Ardern took aim at the Trump administration and other countries that have decided to back out of combating the “catastrophic” issue.
"If my Pacific neighbours do not have the option of opting out of the effects of climate change, why should we be able to opt out of taking action to stop it?" she asked. "Nations like Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, or Kiribati – small countries who've contributed the least to global climate change – are and will suffer the full force of a warming planet."
She went on to address women’s rights, stating that "Me Too must become We Too." Despite New Zealand being considered a progressive country, she said, our globally high rates of domestic violence, our persistent gender pay gap, and an over representation of women in low-paid work meant there was much work still to be done.
"It seems surprising that in this modern age we have to recommit ourselves to gender equality, but we do,” she said. "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.”
Ardern finished off in trademark style, saying "kindness" was essential to achieve "the simplicity of peace, of prosperity, of fairness".
Watch Ardern’s full UN speech here.