The world must recommit to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals if the ambitious targets are to be met, British ministers and diplomats will urge at a UN summit next week.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was accused of snubbing the New York gathering by blaming scheduling pressures for his absence and instead sending a team led by his deputy Oliver Dowden.
He is not the only leader expected to miss the summit, which will include discussions on the war in Ukraine, artificial intelligence and the threat of climate change.
French President Emmanuel Macron is not expected to attend, nor are Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The UN meeting comes just weeks after world leaders met at the G20 summit.
The deputy prime minister will be accompanied in New York by Foreign Minister James Cleverly, who will arrive on Sunday and will, among other things, hold talks with his US and French counterparts during the trip.
During their stay, the UK delegation is expected to focus on emphasizing the importance of a “workable” multilateral system while calling for renewed efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine will also be on the agenda as Mr Dowden – a close ally of the Prime Minister – will attend UN Security Council meetings later this week.
In an address to the General Assembly on Friday, he will also call on countries to cooperate on new technologies such as AI. Meetings with top technology companies are also scheduled to take place during the American visit.
This comes as the UK prepares to host an AI summit in November, with Mr Sunak keen to give the UK a key role in using and regulating the technology.
Mr Dowden said: “The UK has always worked closely with the United Nations to create a safer, healthier and more prosperous world.”
“I look forward to using this year to discuss the challenges and opportunities of AI, so that the benefits of this revolutionary technology are clearly felt around the world, and how the UK can be at the forefront of this effort.”
“We will also announce new support to combat climate change, boost global economic growth and prevent future pandemics.
“But the principles of the United Nations are being called into question by Russia’s appalling actions in Ukraine: it is deliberately attacking and terrorizing civilians and attempting to hold the world to ransom by blocking vital food supplies.”
Mr Dowden said he would “challenge” Russia over the war.
The Foreign Minister will also emphasize the need to ensure that international support for Kiev remains strong as the war drags on.
Mr Cleverly said: “Only a functioning multilateral system can address the complex and interconnected global challenges we face.
“But our system is under pressure, particularly from increasing geopolitical rivalry. The Sustainable Development Goals are seriously derailed and we must come together to reaffirm and accelerate their achievement by 2030.”
He added: “Putin is counting on the misguided assumption that he can outlast international support for Ukraine.”
“We will not be deterred. It is in all of our interests to ensure that Russia is defeated and expelled from the territory of Ukraine as quickly as possible.”