This year's United Nations General Assembly was once again a high-energy and eventful week, which brought the international community to New York to discuss pressing global issues and challenges. It was held under the new UN leadership, with a number of new Heads of State and Government and other leaders addressing the UN for the first time.
You all saw the headlines – some good, some bad and some regrettably worrying. But behind the big screens and all the grand-standing, my EU colleagues and I were there to ensure that the progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was recognised and accelerated.
European leadership in this respect is now needed more than ever. Two years into implementation, the EU's commitment to honouring our global pledges in partnership with the UN and through the multilateral system remains as strong as ever. In the end, it's all about people and our planet's future – and I'd like to share with you some of the examples of our work that we presented in New York.
Ending violence against women and girls (VAWG)
My proudest moment was by far the launch of our new EUR 500 million 'Spotlight Initiative' with the UN, to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in our partner countries.
The fact that one in three women today still suffers physical or sexual abuse – often from their closest relatives – is simply unacceptable. Through our Initiative we want to shine a spotlight on some of the darkest corners of our societies, break the walls of silence and the persistent cycles of violence, and help women and girls around the world to truly shine!
I was overwhelmed by the support and interest we received at the launch event, from the UN family to global leaders, and from activists and celebrities to women and men of all generations. This is a truly global issue which will require an equally global effort if we're to get to zero violence against women and girls. I hope you'll all help us to spread the light.
Ensuring safe and inclusive societies
Peace and security are both a necessary pre-condition and a lasting consequence of truly sustainable development. Without them, our efforts to eradicate poverty and inequality will simply not succeed. At a high-level event on peaceful and inclusive societies I emphasised in particular the vital role of women and young people as powerful agents of change in our societies. When half of the world is female, and half of the population under the age of 30, we simply cannot afford to leave either of these important sections of society behind.
At an event co-hosted by the Estonian Presidency, I also launched a new initiative with the International Labour Organization to monitor the violation of indigenous peoples' rights and increase their access to justice. At 370 million, they make up the world's third largest population, and will be the true test of our promise to leave no one behind.
Making progress on nutrition
When it comes to leaving no one behind, our work for the very youngest is crucial. With a quarter of the world's children suffering from stunted growth and development, and more than 50 million suffering weight loss and wasting, I was glad to report good progress at an event on Scaling Up Nutrition.
We've increased our funding by three times in 2016 compared to 2014, and have already allocated half of the EUR 3.5 billion we promised for nutrition until 2020. As a result, the rate of progress towards our goal of saving 7 million children from stunting by 2025 is accelerating.
Watch this short video to find out why this is so important for our world's future.
New York was also an important milestone for our ambitious External Investment Plan, and to get much-needed investment flowing in Africa and the European neighbourhood to vital infrastructure, entrepreneurs, and women and young people in particular.
This new Plan will become operational in the coming months, and in record time, just over a year since we launched the proposals. My mission in New York was to encourage our international partners to support our efforts – which could increase its potential from around EUR 44 billion to EUR 88 billion.
Ensuring sustainable energy for all
It's hard to imagine in our highly-connected and tech-dependent world, that a population three times the size of the US still doesn't have access to electricity, many of whom are in Africa. And three billion still use unclean cooking fuels, which kills more people today than HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB combined.
That's why we're providing EUR 3.7 billion of funding until 2020 to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 on access to affordable and clean energy for all. This includes a specific target to help Africa bring renewable energy to an extra 30 million people, and we already have an agreed pipeline of projects to help us get there.
Sometimes you have to run before you can walk
All of this goes to show, as the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said, that the EU is not just ready to walk the talk when it comes to honouring our global commitments - but that we're already hitting the ground running!
You can find out about all the development related events from UNGA by checking out my Twitter feed, or by following @EuropeAid. A selection of my speeches from New York are also published on my website.