31 March 2011
Secretary-General
SG/SM/13489
AFR/2154

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

New United Nations Facility in Nairobi Model for Green Architecture in Africa


and Beyond, Milestone on Road to Rio 2012 Conference, Says Secretary-General


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the opening of a new facility at Gigiri in Nairobi, 31 March:


Nimefurahi kurudi Kenya [I am happy to come back to Kenya].


Mr. President [Mwai Kibaki of Kenya], I thank you for honouring us by your presence in person.  This is a most important and historic event, opening a new chapter not only in the relationship between the United Nations and Kenya, but also in opening a new path for the United Nations, leading by example in opening a new way towards a greener and cleaner world.  This is exactly what we have to do, lead by example, and I thank such visionary leadership of Achim Steiner, Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat for this very good initiative.  I believe that this is the first such major visionary initiative within the United Nations system, and I hope that other organizations around the world, not only the United Nations, will follow this suit.


As you know, the United Nations Headquarters building in New York is also going through major renovations after 60 years of its existence.  Our aim, our target, is to make this United Nations landmark Headquarters building [one of the] greenest, cleanest building[s] in the world.  So, I am very grateful for this first initiative and we will try to learn the lessons from this.


We are here to officially inaugurate this new, wonderful facility.  I am so impressed by this building.  I wish I could move here full-time!  This building is beautiful, comfortable and efficient.  But more than any of that, this building is a living model of our sustainable future.  Because if our growing population is going to survive on this planet, we need smart designs that maximize resources, minimize waste, and serve people and communities.


This facility hits all of these targets.  We are making the most of Nairobi’s beautiful sunshine, its biodiversity, its rainwater.  We are using more efficient computers, plumbing and lights.  And inside this building — this example of how to preserve the global environment — our staff are working to help countries and cities around the world achieve sustainable development.  This facility embodies the new, green economy I have championed for years now.  An economy that can usher in a cleaner future, create jobs and spur economic growth.  The United Nations Environment Programme and UN-Habitat are leading this effort.  You are working hard to reduce your own carbon footprint.  And today, you formally open a facility that ranks among the most energy-efficient in the world.


I hope all United Nations offices can follow Gigiri’s example.  In New York, as I said, we are doing a major renovation, but New York is not Nairobi.  Sometimes I wish it were!  We have some sunny days, but nothing like the beautiful, bright sunshine you get here, so close to the equator.  Still, we are working hard to cut back on our energy use and increase our efficiency.  We are planning to harvest rainwater just like at this building.  And beyond Headquarters, United Nations offices around the world are going green.  I hope they all reach the very high bar you have set today.


I congratulate all the staff members, architects, supporters and designers for their dedicated support to make these facilities possible.  And I particularly thank the contractors who worked so hard to bring us to this day.  The opening of this new facility, this model for green architecture in Africa and beyond, is a milestone on the road to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro.  The Rio+20 summit is not just a gathering of Governments, meeting to review international progress on sustainable development; it is about our very future — and the future of life on our planet — our ecosystems and our air, our food supply and our water, our shared fate on this earth.


The stakes are very high.  But seeing this building, this picture of our new, green future, my hopes are even higher and brighter.  So it is with great pride and pleasure that I officially open this new facility for the United Nations family and our partners.  May its sunlight and gardens inspire us all to work even harder to protect this planet — our only home.  Thank you very much.


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For information media • not an official record