25 April 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the inauguration ceremony of Conference Building M at the Vienna International Centre, in Vienna, 25 April:

I am honoured to be here for the inauguration of this new M Building which Austria has so generously donated to the international community.  The M Building is a simple name for a complex facility encompassing dozens of meeting rooms with the capacity to service up to fifteen hundred people.

The United Nations and other Vienna-based organizations are very grateful for this meaningful contribution, which will facilitate our work here immeasurably.

This gift represents a very significant enlargement of a United Nations compound.  These state-of-the-art facilities will support important intergovernmental talks on a range of critical issues affecting us all.

The Austrian Government and the city of Vienna are covering almost the entire cost, with the United Nations paying just a token amount.  Our small contribution symbolizes something much greater:  the commitment of all Member States to maintain Vienna as a major hub for dealing with international security issues.

This new building will significantly enhance the UN’s capacity to support the international community.  We’re committed to making the best use of it and providing high-quality service to all those meeting here.

Over the next few years, a number of Vienna-based organizations will be using the M building while asbestos is removed from conference building C.  I see this as a great opportunity for us to share resources and boost cooperation.

These are all great advantages, but I am personally most encouraged by the fact that this new facility is so environmentally friendly.  Heat is being re-circulated to save energy.  Throughout the building hot -– and cold –- air is re-used while filters keep it clean and fresh.  This is a real energy saver.

And this new building is heated through Vienna’s “Fernwärme”, which uses green technology to burn ecological refuse and generate heat.

There are also sensors that estimate how many people are in each room, optimizing cooling and heating efficiency, and minimizing waste.  Thanks to the sensors, the building can tell, for example, when meetings break up, and then reduce the air control in the conference rooms while increasing it in the foyers.

The façade of this building is mainly windows providing high-security protection.  This is critically important.  And at the same time, the windows have screens that allow the sun to heat the building during cold days and, when it’s warm, to reflect the sunlight off the building and help cool it.

I’m extremely grateful for these measures, which answer my call for action on climate change.  For the past year and a half, I’ve been pushing the environmental agenda, and it’s encouraging to see that this building has been designed with the best interests of the planet at heart.

Thanks to the Government of Austria and the great city of Vienna, this facility can be the birthplace of real advances against global problems.  This will build on Vienna’s long tradition as a city where international diplomacy flourishes in the service of the United Nations Charter and the peoples in whose name it was adopted.

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For information media • not an official record