The Doomsday Clock and the UN Summit of the Future: What can you do?

On January 24, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 90 Seconds to Midnight. This is even closer than last year to a possible global catastrophe from nuclear war, climate collapse or other existential threat to current and future generations.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the increased risk of nuclear escalation were key reasons for the new Clock time. However, the new move to 90 seconds was also influenced by the climate crisis and the breakdown of global norms and institutions needed to mitigate risks associated with advancing technologies and biological threats such as COVID-19.

“The Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity. We are on the brink of a precipice. But our leaders are not acting at sufficient speed or scale to secure a peaceful and liveable planet. From cutting carbon emissions to strengthening arms control treaties and investing in pandemic preparedness, we know what needs to be done. The science is clear, but the political will is lacking. This must change in 2023 if we are to avert catastrophe. We are facing multiple, existential crises. Leaders need a crisis mindset.”
Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Speaker at the announcement of the Doomsday Clock, January 24, 2023.

Take action to turn back the hands of the clock!

There are many actions which you could take to help turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock and help protect peace and the planet for our common future. UNFOLD ZERO recommends three:

  • Endorse Protect People and the Planet: An Appeal for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World
    The appeal advances practical measures to reduce the threat of nuclear war and realistic approaches to achieve a nuclear weapon free world. It also calls for budgets and investments in the nuclear weapons industry to be shifted to address public health and climate change. (Check here to see who has already endorsed. Click here to see quotes from endorsers);
  • Support the campaign to take climate change to the International Court of Justice (ICJ):
    Governments are not doing enough to prevent the slide towards climate collapse. Led by World’s Youth for Climate Justice, this campaign calls on the ICJ to affirm strong legal obligations for climate protection and to address impacts already being experienced from climate change. 18 Countries have taken up the call, led by Vanuatu, and have circulated a draft UN General Assembly Resolution to take the case to the ICJ.
  • Engage in the preparatory process for the UN Summit of the Future and the Global Pact for the Future
    The UN will hold a Summit of the Future in September 2024 to enhance “multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow.” The Summit will adopt a Pact for the Future, establish a Special Envoy for Future Generations, discuss the New Agenda for Peace currently being prepared by the UN Secretary-General. See below for more information about the Summit and how you can be involved.

UN Summit of the Future

The United Nations General Assembly has decided to hold a Summit of the Future (full title: Summit of the Future: multilateral solutions for a better tomorrow) on 22-23 September 2024, preceded by a preparatory ministerial meeting at the United Nations in New York on 18 September 2023.

The Summit is tasked to adopt an action-orientated Outcome Document, a Pact for the Future. It is also likely to establish a UN Special Envoy for Future Generations, and it could address other institutional reforms/initiatives such as the proposal by the UN Secretary-General to re-purpose the Trusteeship Council to enhance governance of the global commons (the oceans, atmosphere, outer space, Antarctica and the Sea-Bed).

In addition, the UN Secretary-General is preparing a New Agenda for Peace which will be released prior to the UN Summit of the Future. It will have relevance for the Summit and more broadly for the UN as a whole.  

Civil society input:

The Coalition for the UN We Need (C4UN) is facilitating civil society input into the UN Summit and its preparatory process, and for the New Agenda for Peace. This includes:

  • Holding a Global Futures Forum on March 20-21 (in New York and online);
  • Preparing a People’s Pact for the Future to be released in April 2023;
  • Organising a number of dialogues with the UN and government representatives facilitating the UN Summit and the Pact for the Future;
  • Organising a number of thematic and regional consultations to ensure maximum possible input and engagement by civil society in the UN processes.

Thematic consultations:

C4UN has identified seven key themes for the Summit of the Future and is facilitating civil society consultations on these themes during February/March 2023. These consultations will feed into the thematic discussions at the Global Futures Forum and into the draft Peoples Pact for the Future.

The seven themes are:  Global Economic & Financial Architecture, Human Rights & Participation, Development (HLPF, SDGs), Global Digital Compact, Environmental Governance, Peace and Security, and UN & Global Governance Innovation.

UNFOLD ZERO is hosting the webpage for the Peace and Security consultations and has helped prepare an Introduction to the Peace and Security theme which introduces the UN Peace and Security agendas and outlines various security frameworks including national security, common security, human security, military security, feminist foreign policy, trans-generational security, environmental security and inter-national law/global governance.