On his first day at the United Nations General Assembly, Pedro Sánchez announced a series of financial commitments that will involve the delivery of 40 million euros from Spain to various UN organizations apart from those already contributed to that organization, and that in 2022 amounted to 544.3 million, according to official Spanish sources. This makes Spain one of the ten countries that donate the most to the UN, a goal that Sánchez wants to maintain.

The head of government participated in the Second Leaders' Dialogue for Building Resilience and Leaving No One Behind, one of the four working groups of the High-Level Forum. Sánchez was the thirteenth leader to speak, to announce an increase in Spanish financial participation in the Joint Fund of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

According to government sources, in the period 2021-2023, Spain, with a contribution of 100 million euros, has become the second largest contributor to the SDG Fund, after Sweden. His intention is to continue in that position, for which Sánchez announced 20 million euros for the period 2024-2027. The Fund finances operations around the world for the development of the 2030 Agenda, usually in collaboration with the private sector and other multilateral agencies, as well as governments and civil society groups.

The Prime Minister also announced 20 million euros to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a multilateral bank chaired by Spaniard Álvaro Lario, aimed at guaranteeing food security. IFAD, which belongs to the UN, has provided more than €20 billion in aid to the agricultural sector in the developing world since its establishment in 000. The aid comes at a time when food security around the world is in jeopardy in part because of the blockade on Ukrainian grain exports that Russia is trying to impose.

Intervention of Pedro Sánchez in one of the forums. AP

Thus, Spain contributes an extra 40 million, according to official sources, in the next three years, These are, according to the same sources, items framed in the ordinary budget of Foreign Affairs and in line with the International Cooperation Law in which Spain undertakes to allocate 0.7% of Gross National Income to official development aid.

Finally, the Spanish president explained Spain's aspiration to be among the top ten donors to the budget of UN agencies between 2024 and 2027. The president concluded his speech by presenting the candidacy to be the summit of the IV Headquarters for the Financing of Sustainable Development, to be held in 2025.

Uncertainty in Spain

The appointment in New York will prevent Pedro Sánchez from being in Congress on Tuesday, when the use of Catalan, Basque and Galician comes into force in the Chamber and amid uncertainty over the formation of a new Government after the elections of 23-J. The debate on the Spanish political situation has crossed the Atlantic. Two weeks ago, the Washington Post published an editorial of unusual harshness against the Prime Minister's plans to negotiate with Junts per Catalunya (JxC). The headline of the article, signed by the Editorial Board of the newspaper, left no doubt about its content: "Spain is taken hostage by a faction of separatist extremists." The text compared Catalan separatists to Vox and Donald Trump, and claimed that "in Spain, the wellspring" of identity politics is not "race or religion," but is "regional, especially in the prosperous region of Catalonia."

Finally, the newspaper quoted the former Minister of Foreign Affairs with Pedro Sánchez, Arantxa González-Laya, to defend the thesis that trying to negotiate with the secessionists is only a distraction from the real problems that Spain has. Contacted by EL MUNDO, both the head of the Opinion section of the newspaper -a position that in the US press has enormous power, since the Opinion area is totally separate from that of News-, David Shipley, and the main author of the text, Leo Hockstader, did not want to add more to the article, claiming that "it is self-explanatory".

The harsh editorial of the Post – a newspaper that as recently as 2019 published an opinion article signed by Oriol Junqueras – has meant a surprising change in the general position of the US towards Sánchez, who since the beginning of his mandate has taken special care to take care of relations with the United States, both with the Government of Joe Biden and with the media of that country. This was evident in the meeting with the US president at the White House last May, just at the start of the campaign for the municipal and regional elections.

The US political class, and even more so public opinion, are totally oblivious to the Spanish political vicissitudes, as long as the country maintains its political and economic stability and remains a faithful ally of NATO. The Government's strategy for the next two months of negotiation with JxC is that an agreement with that party will reinforce that stability, since it will eliminate the potential focus of tension that the resumption of the secessionist process in Catalonia would entail. A secessionist process that no one in Washington believes will happen or be good for the interests of Europe or the US – indeed, that must be one of the few things on which Obama, Trump and Biden agree – but which still raises some concern about its potential to create problems in the future.

Media agenda

In principle, in New York, Sánchez will only meet, in the field of the media agenda, with the Editorial Board of the NBC television network, the most watched in the country. NBC is owned by cable giant Comcast, which owns, among others, Hollywood Studios Paramount, Internet distribution company Xfinity, Britain's SkyTV network, and left-wing news channel MSNBC, the country's second-most-watched Fox News. On other trips, the president has had interviews and media appearances that were not on his official calendar.

Sánchez's institutional agenda revolves around multilateral initiatives, although throughout these three days he will also hold a bilateral meeting with different world leaders. Among others, meetings with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia' Al Sudani and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani have been confirmed.

Sánchez addresses the Plenary of the Assembly on Wednesday at eight minus ten at night, local time – two in the morning in Spain – although, given the usual delay caused by the more than 30 heads of State and Government who will have exercised the turn of speech before him – among them the undisputed star of this year, Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky, who for the first time since Russia's invasion of his country is attending the UN in person, is likely to do so even later. The terrible position in the calendar of speakers is already almost a tradition of the Spanish presidents of the Government in recent years, because in New York eight o'clock at night it is about ten o'clock in Spain and at that time the cavernous room in which the speeches are delivered is practically empty.

The Forum is being held under the shadow of a catastrophic failure for its promoters: not a single one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – ranging from equality to the protection of biodiversity and the fight against climate change – will be achievable by 2030. Moreover, according to the UN itself, the march towards half of these goals is receding, while the process threatens to create a new focus of North-South conflict in the face of the demands of developing countries that the industrialized world give more economic aid to achieve them, especially in terms of energy transformation and abandonment of fossil fuels. All this has led to a debate among UN member states – all but North Korea and the Vatican – about whether to cut back the plan, which would constitute a political humiliation of the first order but, at least, an act of strategic realism.

Sánchez will participate in other activities linked, directly or indirectly, to the Sustainable Development Goals. On Tuesday afternoon in New York (nine o'clock at night in Spain) he will speak at the High-Level Table on the Reform of the International Financial System, and on Wednesday he will do so at the Climate Ambition Summit, before adhering Spain to the Agreement on the Conservation of Marine Biological Diversity. Spain is also co-organizer of a meeting on feminist diplomacy at the UN. The president will also have a meeting with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Business Economic Forum on Tuesday.

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