|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on United Nations System Activities
during Upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup
The World Cup would change the image of the African continent for the better, Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, said today at a Headquarters press conference where several United Nations agencies highlighted their planned activities for the event.
Mr. Lemke said the event would send a message of achievement, capability and hope. “The World Cup, if successful, will also contribute to the confidence and pride of many States in Africa,” he added, noting that it would be the first time ever that the world’s biggest sports event would take place on African soil, underlining an “African renaissance”.
Such events created legacies, such as infrastructure and tourism, he said, appealing to the media not only to look at mistakes and failures, but also to highlight the positive. After all, it was 10 times more difficult to organize such an unbelievable event in Africa than anywhere else, he added, expressing hope that the World Cup would include a unifying and nation-building factor. The Secretary-General would not only be going to see an elite sport, but also how sports could be used to further development and peacebuilding, Mr. Lemke added.
Speaking for UNICEF, Liza Barrie, Deputy Director for the Office of Public Partnerships, gave an overview of its engagement with the World Cup, saying the agency would focus on protecting children from abuse, exploitation and trafficking. While the South African Government was taking great care to keep children safe during the event, a predicted boom in sex tourism might lead to an increase in the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, she said, adding that UNICEF was implementing a comprehensive child protection plan, in cooperation with the Government and other partners.
She said the plan included the creation of child-friendly spaces for unattended and at-risk children, as well as child-protection training for thousands of professionals. UNICEF’s “Red Card Campaign” was a communications effort that focused on child trafficking, abuse and exploitation. The “Tourism Child Protection Code of Conduct” encouraged service providers in the tourism industry to commit to the principles of protecting children from commercial sexual exploitation. UNICEF was also hosting 21 sports festivals to encourage South African children to share in the fun and excitement generated by the World Cup.
Stéphane Dujarric, Director of Communications for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) emphasized the positive legacy that the event could have for South Africa and the continent at large, saying the World Cup provided a “unique advocacy moment” for the United Nations system. UNDP would use the opportunity to advocate positive messages on the Millennium Development Goals, he said. It had worked with the Government and other partners on the 2010 Sustainable Transport Initiative and would help the Government manage waste. A communications platform for host cities had also been developed and the Local Organizing Committee would coordinate messages and action for the “greening” of the World Cup.
On the advocacy side, he continued, the song Eight Goals for Africa, composed by eight popular African musicians, had been launched in Johannesburg as part of the United Nations system’s awareness-raising campaign for the Millennium Development Goals. With support from the United Nations Foundation, a public service announcement by two UNDP Football Goodwill Ambassadors would also focus on the Millennium Goals, he said, adding that the Programme had also entered into a partnership with the Sony Corporation to screen programmes in the Sony Fan Parks during the games, both in South Africa and Cameroon.
Munyaradze Chenje, Head of Policy Coordination and Inter-agency Affairs for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), highlighted some of the activities that agency was undertaking, in cooperation with the Government, to mitigate some environmental impacts of the “mega-sports event”. In cooperation with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNEP was providing $1 million for energy-reduction products in the six host cities, such as retrofitting street lights, traffic lights and billboards with energy-efficient appliances and solar panels.
Citing other examples, he said “Green Passports” was an initiative to encourage visitors to make responsible travel choices that were respectful of the environment and that would have a positive effect on the economic and social development of local communities. UNEP was also undertaking assessments to review how key environmental issues were addressed before and during the World Cup.
In response to questions, Ms. Barrie emphasized that the South African Government took child protection very seriously and had done “quite a lot” in that regard, including strengthening long-term protection as part of the World Cup “legacy”. People were being trained, systems were being put in place and awareness was being raised, she said, adding that the games had the potential significantly to improve the lives of children.
She said she had not heard of reports that some municipalities were rounding up children and “keeping them out of sight” in underfinanced facilities on the periphery of town, but it was doubtful that they were true. Police and social workers, were on the front line in responding to child-protection concerns and the issue was being addressed in a systemic way, she said.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Lemke appealed to the media not to focus only on the negative things because many positive things had been done in the lead-up to the World Cup and the nation was coming together for the event. Five magnificent stadiums had been built and they would be used in the future, not only sports but also for cultural events, he said. But first of all, the World Cup must be a big success, he added, underlining that the event was neither an American nor a European championship, but an African one.
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