11 September 2013

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

At Film Screening of ‘ Planet Ocean’, Secretary-General Says Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s

Pictures ‘Are Worth Thousands of Words’


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the screening of Planet Ocean by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, in New York, 11 September:

I would like to thank Omega for supporting tonight’s event and for its efforts to support organizations that strive to protect our oceans and raise awareness of critical environmental issues.  May I also take this opportunity to encourage Omega to take an additional step and join the United Nations Global Compact, our corporate sustainability initiative.

The author of the film we are about to see once said:  “The Earth is art, the photographer is only witness.”

As a photographer, journalist, filmmaker and environmentalist, Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been bearing witness to the Earth’s beauty for half a century.  He has been on a mission to bring that beauty to the widest possible audience since he was a seventeen-year-old director’s assistant.

Yann’s books are admired in homes, schools, libraries.  His images grace galleries and museums, billboards, airports and subways.  They help us see the magnificence of our shared planet — and also its fragility.

It is no coincidence that Yann is a committed conservationist.  His images portray a world in transition:  melting sea ice, endangered atolls, encroaching deserts, seething slums.   In Planet Ocean, Yann reveals the mysteries of the seas and sounds a warning about the urgent need to protect.

Last year, I met with the crew of the research vessel Tara, which is featured in the film.  It docked in New York as part of a global voyage, supported in part by UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme] and UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], to raise awareness and increase knowledge about oceans and the challenges they face.  We talked about their work and the United Nations own initiatives to promote healthy oceans for prosperity.

As we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and define a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, I hope this film can help to generate political momentum to safeguard our oceans. 

I also look forward to hearing more about Yann’s next project highlighting the richness and diversity of humanity.  Yann has long been a valued ambassador for the United Nations.  His pictures are worth thousands of words.  I thank him for service on behalf of people and the planet and urge him to keep up his good work in the future.  Thank you.

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For information media • not an official record