Celebrating United Nations Day: Here’s How You Can Help Make a Difference

President Obama on United Nations Day

Seventy-one years ago, the world came together after two world wars to move forward and strengthen international cooperation, creating a better, more connected world.

Today, we reflect on the progress we’ve made since then to promote international peace and prosperity and celebrate the work we’ve done to address some of the most important issues of our time. Read the President’s UN Day Proclamation.

“We are called upon to offer a different type of leadership — leadership strong enough to recognize that nations share common interests and people share a common humanity, and, yes, there are certain ideas and principles that are universal. That’s what those who shaped the United Nations 70 years ago understood. Let us carry forward that faith into the future — for it is the only way we can assure that future will be brighter for my children, and for yours.”

Advancing sustainable development goals

Last year, President Obama joined world leaders to adopt a list of global goals that set out the vision and priorities of the next 15 years. Take a look:


Together, these 17 goals outline a path towards ending poverty, reducing inequalities, tackling climate change, and shaping a better world for the generations to come. Through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the United States joins with countries around the world in ensuring that no one is left behind by ending extreme poverty and prioritizing policies and investments that have long-term, transformative and sustainable impact.

Under the Obama administration, the United States has been a global leader in achieving these goals. From taking historic global action to combat climate change through the historic Paris Agreement, supporting the right to an education and opening doors for girls around the world through initiatives such as Let Girls Learn, to working to end poverty and promote global health, food security, open government, and more: the United States has responded to this shared responsibility to help lift people up and support a more sustainable future. 

“I have learned that our identities do not have to be defined by putting someone else down, but can be enhanced by lifting somebody else up.”

Here’s how you can get involved

Working to implement these goals and create a brighter tomorrow is something we all play a role in. It’s the small steps and changes that you can make in your life or in your community that help move us forward. That is why this the UN has made it easier to get involved than ever before.

Visit the new SDGs in Action app to learn more about the 17 goals, choose what goals matter to you, and find out how you can join in and help make a difference in your community today.

Jazmin Kay is an intern in the Office of Digital Strategy. 

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Weekly Address: Taking Action to Spur Competition in the Airline Industry

In this week’s address, President Obama highlighted the actions his administration is taking to spur competition in the airline industry, protect consumers and arm them with the information they need to make informed decisions, following the President’s call to action in April. Building on the progress we’ve made so far, this week’s actions include a proposed requirement for airlines to reimburse luggage fees when bags are delayed; requiring airlines to report on the probability that your luggage could be lost; providing protections for travelers with disabilities; and requiring additional transparency and fairness in online ticket platforms.

The President highlighted these steps as another example of how government can be a force for good – ensuring that everyday Americans get a fair shake in our economy and have a voice in the conversation. That’s what these actions are about – taking steps, big and small, to better the lives of everyday Americans.


Transcript | mp4 | mp3


How We’re Helping to Make Air Travel Better

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October 22nd is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Nearly 130 people in the U.S. die every day from a drug overdose, and most of those involve prescription opioids or heroin. The majority of people of people who misuse prescription drugs report that they obtained the drugs from family or friends.

But this weekend you can do something about it and help protect your family and friends.

This Saturday, October 22, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. If you have unneeded or expired prescription drugs at home, you can drop them off at a safe, legal collection site in your neighborhood from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time. No questions asked. More than 6.4 million pounds of medication have been collected at past Take-Back Days.

There will more than 5,000 collection sites nationwide, and thousands of state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers will join with parents and community leaders to safely, conveniently, and responsibly dispose of expired or unwanted prescription drugs.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy has been working with Federal agencies and communities to make it easier for communities to set up permanent disposal programs locally. And following the President’s call to action last year, private organizations have taken steps to make it more convenient to safely dispose of unneeded drugs throughout the year. For example:

President Obama has made clear that addressing the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic is a priority for his Administration. Take-Back Day is a critical part of the Administration’s efforts to address the opioid epidemic. To fully address the crisis, however, Congress must act to provide more funding to make lifesaving treatment available to everyone who seeks it. The President has called for $1.1 billion in new funding for states to help expand access to treatment. Every day that passes without Congressional action to provide these additional resources is a missed opportunity to save lives.

While the Administration waits on Congress, Federal agencies have been using their authority to take every available action they can. The Administration has been working to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, expand access to effective treatment, support the millions of Americans in recovery, and pursue targeted enforcement activities.

On Saturday, you can help make your community safer by participating in Take-Back Day in your area.

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Behind the Scenes: The Affordable Care Act

Today, President Obama heads to Miami, Florida to talk about the progress we’ve made for Americans across the country since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land over six years ago. To help celebrate this landmark legislation, we’re releasing never-before-seen footage from the day that the Affordable Care Act was passed and the day it was signed into law. Take a look:

The footage includes: President Obama traveling to the Capitol to speak to the Democratic Members of the House and Senate the day before the vote; the President watching the vote with staff in the Roosevelt Room before speaking to the nation on its passage; and the President hosting a reception in the White House residence to thank the staff who worked alongside him in bringing the legislation over the finish line. 

The footage also follows the physical legislation from the Capitol to the Office of the Vice President to an East Room signing ceremony. After signing it into law, President Obama welcomes the individuals who stood with him at the signing ceremony into the Oval Office.

Learn more about the progress we’ve made on health care thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

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What Natoma's Letter Means to President Obama

Watch President Obama’s remarks in Miama, Florida at 1:55pm ET.

Hanging on a wall outside the Oval Office, there’s a framed letter from a woman named Natoma Canfield. 

For years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance and paid her premiums on time. But one day, the fear of so many became her reality: She was diagnosed with cancer. She fought for her health and had been living cancer-free for some time, but her insurance company kept raising her insurance rates, year after year. She needed the coverage, but she couldn’t afford it. So she had to surrender her health plan and live merely on the hope that she would stay healthy. 

She shared her story in a letter to President Obama in 2009. In the following year, during the heated political fight to pass the health care law, President Obama carried Natoma’s letter with him every day as a reminder that health care reform would help change the lives of millions of people who were clinging to hope.  

President Obama will be talking about people like Natoma today in Miami at 1:55 pm ET: the brothers and sisters, moms and dads, and sons and daughters across America whose lives have been improved, and even saved, because we worked together to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act.

Natoma's Letter

A letter from Natoma Canfield, a woman from Ohio that President Barack Obama met who didn’t have health insurance, hangs on the wall in the hall between the Oval Office and the President’s Private Office in the West Wing. June 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

After more than six years of this landmark law, let’s look back at the progress we’ve made:

Natoma's Letter

Natoma’s Letter

Twenty million Americans have gained health coverage – not counting the 3 million more children gaining coverage during this period of time. More than 90 percent of Americans have health insurance for the first time ever. Up to 129 million people who could have otherwise been denied insurance because of a preexisting condition now have access to coverage – even as we have seen the slowest growth in health care prices in 50 years. And, the quality, coordination, and effectiveness of the health care we receive has improved.  

Just last year, Natoma wrote another letter. She thanked the President for the Affordable Care Act and told him that she’s remained cancer-free. Her note now joins a collection of letters to the President from people who have been helped by the law. People like Astrid from North Carolina, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was able to get the surgery she needed. Or Ann Marie from Connecticut who was able to detect an early stage of breast cancer thanks to better preventive care.

You can read these letters and more right here.

As someone who has worked alongside the President, I can tell you that these are the letters that inspired him to put so much work into making health care reform a reality. 

So read these letters and tune in today to hear how far we’ve come since we passed the Affordable Care Act, and what more is needed to further improve the health of the nation.

Jeanne Lambrew is the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy.

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