Special presidential envoy BTS arrives in New York City for UN General Assembly event

K-pop superstars and special presidential envoy BTS arrived in New York City on Sept. 18 (Sept. 19 in the Philippines) to attend and speak at an event that is part of the 76th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

BTS (top left) at the launch of Generation Unlimited during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly in September 2018, and at Incheon International Airport before they left for New York City on Sept. 18 (Blue House, Twitter)

BTS left Incheon International Airport in South Korea on Sept. 18 aboard a Korean Air flight. Videos of their arrival in New York City were posted on social media.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in appointed BTS as his Special Presidential Envoy for Future Generations and Culture.

At a ceremony at the Blue House in Seoul on Sept. 14, Moon gave BTS their appointment papers, diplomatic passports and fountain pens as gifts. The flight to New York City was the first time that BTS used their red diplomatic passports. This is also the first time in one year and eight months that BTS left South Korea as they have been unable to travel overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moon, on the other hand, will fly to New York City today (Sept. 19). He will stay for three days in New York City until Sept. 21, travel to Honolulu, Hawaii on Sept. 22, and return to South Korea on Sept. 23.

BTS’ first official duty as special presidential envoy is to attend the second Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Moment of the Decade of Action that will be held on Sept. 20 at the UN General Assembly Hall.

The SGD Moment meeting, according to UN, aims to “reinforce the continued relevance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and build momentum in advance of major summits and intergovernmental meetings.”  

It also seeks to highlight urgent actions needed to ensure COVID-19 response and recovery efforts are equitable, inclusive and accelerate the transition to sustainable development” and “demonstrate that transformative change at scale is possible between now and 2030.”

The 2030 Agenda was adopted by UN member states in 2015 and it “provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.”

The SDG has 17 components, “which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.

The 17 SDGs are No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation, Affordable and Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action, Life Below Water, Life on Land, Peace and Justice Strong Institutions and Partnerships to achieve the Goal.

About 30 to 35 heads of state and government of countries that conducted national reviews have been invited to the meeting.

Based on a program for the SDG Moment meeting, President Moon will make his remarks and introduce the special guest. BTS will follow next and make their remarks and have a performance.

Here is the draft program as of Sept. 15 for the SDG Moment meeting to be held on Sept. 20:

SDG Moment 2021 Convened by the United Nations Secretary-General

Monday, 20 September 2021

Time and Date: 8am–12pm; 2pm–5pm; Monday 20 September 2021

Format and venue: Virtual - SDG Studio, General Assembly Hall, Online

08:00 - Opening Segment

Welcome by the moderators

- Ms. Juju Chang, ABC News

- Mr. Sherwin Bryce Pease, South Africa Broadcasting Corporation

Opening film on the SDGs

Opening Statement by the H.E. Mr. António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Opening statement by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN

General Assembly

The State of SDG progress

- Ms. Claire Casey, Global Head of Policy and Thought Leadership at The Economist Group.

Remarks and introduction to Special Guest by His Excellency, Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of Republic of Korea

Remarks and performance by BTS, Special Envoy for Future Generations and Culture

08:40 - Part 1: Leveraging the COVID-19 Response and Recovery to accelerate SDG implementation

Intergenerational dialogue with Ms. Graça Machel (SDG Advocate)

Roundtable debate on leveraging the COVID-19 Response and Recovery to accelerate SDG implementation

- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization

- Dr. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa

- Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, UN Development Programme

09:15 - Part 2: Plans, pathways, and partners for Recovery and beyond

- Statement by H.E. Mr. Collen Vixen Kelapile, President of ECOSOC

Statement by the Co-Chairs of the Secretary-General’s SDG Advocates

- H.E. Mr. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana

- H.E. Ms. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway

09:30 Contributions from Heads of State or Government


- H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt

- H.E. Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya

- H.E. Mr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi

- H.E. Mr. Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of the Republic of Mozambique

- H.E. Mr. Julius Maada Bio, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone

- H.E. Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, President of the Republic of Zambia

- H.E. Mr. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe

- Head of State/Government of Cabo Verde (tbc)

- Head of State/Government of Sudan (tbc)

- Head of State/Government of Tunisia (tbc)

10:20 - Spotlight on pathways and partners: Connectivity: Narrowing the digital divide

Moderated dialogue

- Ms. Paula Ingabire, Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Innovation, Government of Rwanda

- Mr. Bill Tai, Chairman and Co-Founder, ACTAI Global

- Ms. Valentina Munoz Rabanal (SDG Advocate)

10:40 - Contributions from Heads of State or Government

Asia and the Pacific

- H.E. Mr. David Kabua, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands

- H.E. Mr. Suga Yoshihide, Prime Minister of Japan

- H.E. Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

- H.E. General (Ret.) Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand

- Head of State/Government of China (tbc)

11:05 - Reflections and perspectives:

- Ms. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme

- Ms. Mari Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

11:12 - Spotlight on pathways and partners:

Achieving gender equality – Women Powering the Economic Recovery

Moderated dialogue

- Dr. Sima Sami Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women

- Ms. Melinda Gates, Gates Foundation


11:45 - Break for lunch – Join UN Global Compact Uniting Business Live

14.00 - Part 2: Plans, pathways, and partners for Recovery and beyond (continued)

14:01 - Spotlight on pathways and partners

Youth in Action: Shaping the future now!

Youth-led solutions film

Moderated virtual dialogue:

- Mr. Vladislav Kaim, Moldova (Member, UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change)

- Ms. Yande Banda, Zambia (Chairperson, Transform Education)

14:25 - Contributions from Heads of State or Government

Latin America and the Caribbean

- H.E. Mr. Luis Alberto Arce Catacora, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

- H.E. Mr. Iván Duque Márquez, President of the Republic of Colombia

- H.E. Mr. Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of the Republic of Costa Rica

- H.E. Mr. Miguel Díaz Canel Bermúdez, President of the Republic of Cuba

- H.E. Mr. Alejandro Giammattei Falla, President of the Republic of Guatemala

- H.E. Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana

- H.E. Mr. Laurentino Cortizo Cohen, President of the Republic of Panama

- H.E. Mr. Pedro Castillo Terrones, President of the Republic of Peru

- H.E. Mr. Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Corporate Governance of Antigua and Barbuda

15:05 Reflections and perspectives:

- Mr. Elliot Harris, UN Chief Economist and Assistant SecretaryGeneral, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

- Ms. Solange Maria Pinto Ribeiro, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Neoenergia and Vice-Chair of the board of UN Global Compact

15:15 Spotlight on pathways and partners

Localizing the SDGs: Delivering for and with people

Video on Local 2030 coalition

Moderated dialogue

- Ms. Marina Sereni, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Government of Italy

- Ms. Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone

- Ms. Patricia Miranda Menezes, Co-founder, Rede ODS Brasil

15:35 Contributions from remaining Heads of State or Government

UN Economic Commission for Europe region

- H.E. Mr. János Áder, President of Hungary

- H.E Mr. Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania

- H.E. Mr. Gian Carlo Venturini II & His Excellency Mr. Marco Nicolini I, Captains Regent of the Republic of San Marino

- H.E. Ms. Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark

- H.E Mrs. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

- H.E. Mr. Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón, Prime Minister of Spain

- H.E. Mr. Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

16:05 - Spotlight on pathways and partners 5

Effective and inclusive Institutions: For Justice, equality and trust

Future proofing institutions to accelerate SDG implementation – Virtual ted-talk by Ms. Cat Tully, Founder, School of International Futures

Moderated dialogue:

- Dr. Wayne Henry, Director General Planning Institute of Jamaica

- Ms. Pupul Bisht, Founder, Decolonizing Futures Initiative

- Mr. Salil Shetty, Vice President, Global Programs, Open Society


16:30 Reflections and perspectives:

- Representative of Civil Society

- Representative of Civil Society

- Representative of Civil Society

16:40 - Closing Segment: The Way Ahead

Closing reflections

Moderated dialogue:

- Ms. Amina Mohmmed, UN Deputy Secretary-General

- Mr. Jeffrey Sachs, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on the Sustainable Development Goals

Closing film

17:00 - Meeting Close