Statement at the Opening Ceremony for DESA week at the United Nations Pavilion,

Remarks by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

Welcome to the United Nations pavilion during this final week of the 2010 World Expo!

As this historic event in Shanghai draws to a close, it is a very special time to have so many distinguished international and national guests with us.

A special thank you to the Counselor’s Office of the State Council, the Central Research Institute of Culture and History, the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and the China International Cultural Communication Center for making this event possible.

This week the UN pavilion will highlight the work of my department – the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. It is the arm of the United Nations that works with countries in tackling a wide spectrum of economic, social and environmental challenges. It operates within a framework of internationally agreed upon goals known as the UN development agenda.

The agenda’s issues range from poverty reduction, macroeconomics, finance and protection of vulnerable groups to governance, population, statistics and sustainable development. At DESA we measure countries’ progress in these areas through internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight key goals that world leaders are aiming to achieve by 2015.

As you will learn about in this UN pavilion, much progress has been made toward these goals. MDG programmes have improved the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable people. In order to achieve them, however, governments, NGOs, the private sector and the UN system will have to redouble their collective efforts in the next five years.

The work of my department helps advance this mission.

We facilitate dialogue among nations about priorities, policy measures, and timelines for the development agenda. We provide substantive support to a year-round series of meetings, conference and summits, including the annual General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

We provide research reports and publications that support countries in their decision-making at the UN negotiations on a broad range of development issues, as mentioned earlier, and in their national development strategies.

DESA also provides technical assistance to countries. Our Statistics Division, for example, advises and trains national statistical offices on the latest methodological standards and techniques. Through these relationships we increase countries’ abilities to create successful economic and social programmes.

Distinguished guests,

A through-line that runs through all of our work in DESA is the growing importance of sustainable development. What do I mean by this? That governments and development practitioners must integrate economic and social development with environmental protection. Sustainable development initiatives are those that that tightly integrate the three pillars of economic, social and environmental goals.

Thus the theme of today’s programme – “caring for the planet, embracing the future, and diversifying our civilization” is so appropriate. I hope that we will inspire you, our visitors, to help us in protecting the earth now so that our future and that of our children is a healthy one.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The 2010 Shanghai World Expo has contributed so much to the United Nations agenda. It has promoted dialogue among nations and between different cultures and has showcased the splendid achievements of our civilizations.

With the theme of “Better City, Better Life”, the Expo has helped advance sustainable development by promoting a vision of cities that is safe, healthy and harmonious. It has inspired people to look at their cities differently – as places that they can change and improve by making investments in green infrastructure, fostering harmonious communities and by making simple lifestyle changes.

Shanghai has also served as a stage for a dizzying, dazzling array of cultural performances. It has showcased the ancient and modern beauty of Chinese culture and the marvelous, rich mosaic of the cultures of other regions and nations. It has played host to thousands of international cultural ambassadors – musicians, dancers, artists – who have come here from all corners of the earth. Through their exhibitions and performances they have increased cross-cultural tolerance and contributed to worldwide peace and stability.

The United Nations’ mission and that of the Expo are closely aligned – to bring nations and cities and communities together with the hope of learning from each other and creating a better world in the process.

Thank you and best wishes as you enjoy today’s programme. May you enjoy this vibrant and dynamic city of Shanghai.