The UN general assembly’s events have truly terrible titles—so we fixed them

Countering lexical overreach by means of transformational reframing: a holistic approach.
Countering lexical overreach by means of transformational reframing: a holistic approach.
Image: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

At Quartz we pride ourselves on our headlines. At the United Nations, it’s safe to say, they do not.

The UN general assembly (UNGA) and its side events include a huge numbers of workshops, speeches, and panel discussions, all vying for the attention of delegates and journalists. Giving an event a good title, therefore, is crucial, and it’s much the same challenge as giving a news story a good headline.

A good Quartz headline is smart, innovative, and charming. It should tell you clearly what the story will say, but not be dry or turgid; convince you to read the story, but not be clickbait-y or stretch the facts; and prompt you to share it with your mates.

A good UN headline, apparently, is, intended either to drive you cross-eyed with confusion or to conjure up the feeling of sitting semi-comatose in an airless conference room, trying to resist stabbing your eyes out with a pen just to feel something else than boredom.

Having parsed far too many of these while covering the UNGA this week, we thought we’d give the UN a hand and Quartzify a handful of the worst event titles we spotted this year.

Let’s begin with the very theme of the 2017 UNGA itself:

Focusing on People

: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet

This is a tricky one, since what it really means is: “We don’t have a theme so let’s come up with something nobody can object to.” The other sessions listed below are impenetrable, but not content-free; this one is content-free. Still, here’s our attempt:

How not to kill each other and/or destroy the world

Here are the others:


Impact Investing

The ultimate guide to investing ethically while still making a ton of cash


Sector Accountability for Women, Children and Adolescents

Companies everywhere abuse women and kids, and now it’s payback time


Fights Poverty: Rethinking Collaboration for the SDGs

How I learned to stop being greedy and love meeting anti-poverty goals


Policies and Investments for a Fit-for-Purpose Health Workforce in LMICs

How to get countries the health workers they need at a price they can afford


Public-Private Cooperation to Accelerate Sustainable Development

Businesses and governments can save the world together—so let’s at least make an effort


the Circular Economy Model

Come learn about a wonky economic idea that might just save the environment

“Investment Support Programme for the LDCs”–

High-Level Dialogue

on legal and expert assistance to make foreign investment work better for the sustainable development of the LDCs

How to give poor countries better laws so investors don’t run screaming for the hills


and Reproductive Health, Rights in Women’s

Economic Empowerment

For women to control their careers, first let them control their bodies—it’s really that simple

Beyond CSR

: Mobilizing the Private Sector to Address the Refugee Crisis

Hey business world, that tree-planting scheme is nice, but what have you done for refugees lately?

Planetary Health

: Moving from Concept to Action–Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

We have 17 major world problems to solve in 13 years—so let’s stop talking and start doing

Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship Industry Forum 2017:


to make innovation and technology work for women and girls

Technology isn’t made with women and girls in mind, and you’ll never guess why

High-level discussion around the impact of strong health systems on global security and prosperity

You want a better world? Just build better hospitals