Opening Remarks of Mr. Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations Public Service Day Virtual Event

Distinguished speakers,
Dear participants and viewers,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the celebration of United Nations Public Service Day. 

I wish to thank Her Excellency Ms. Ohood Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Government Development and the Future, United Arab Emirates. I am delighted that you are able to join us as we recognize the immense contributions of public servants to their communities, all around the world. 

I also extend a warm welcome to all our speakers today. I look forward to a lively panel discussion later in the event.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The past year and a half has been marked by unbearable loss, uncertainty, and in many places, stringent government measures in our global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Many public servants have risked their health and even their lives to deliver essential services at the frontline.

Throughout all of this, the public services we rely upon in our daily lives have been rapidly adapted, to respond to our new reality:

  • Classes have gone online, 
  • clinics have provided telehealth services, and 
  • public servants have set up workspaces in their homes - all to ensure the continuous delivery of essential public services.  

The response to the crisis has been innovative and adaptive. Digital technology has played a profound role to keep us all connected, to keep government running, and services delivered.

However, while some countries are beginning to recover, many more are still deep in the throes of the pandemic, suffering immeasurable devastation.  Many families and communities remain offline, unconnected, and at risk of being left further behind.

Ladies and gentlemen;

The past year has shone a spotlight on the vast inequalities that exist globally. 

Within countries too, the impact of inequality can be seen: 

  • between rich and poor, 
  • between those who have access to healthcare and those who do not, 
  • between essential and non-essential workers, and 
  • between those with broadband access and those offline.

These inequalities have played themselves out in overcrowded hospitals, in lines for foodbanks, and unemployment support. 

    The core tenet of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is ‘leave no one behind’. Yet, over the past year, far too many have been left behind.

    While many resources and efforts have been re-directed to combat COVID-19, we must use our innovation to work together better, to tackle inequality in all its forms so as to reach the SDGs. Only when we are all included, can we achieve sustainable development.

    One of the key messages of this year’s Committee of Experts on Public Administration, was that recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of the SDGs should go hand in hand. They should not be seen as sequential or separate.

Therefore, in this Decade of Action to reach the SDGs, let us work together in global solidarity, sharing our innovations, directing resources to the most vulnerable, and combatting inequality head on, together.

As we look to the future, let us harness the resilience and innovation witnessed across our public services over the past year.

Let us better incorporate emerging technologies to enhance the delivery of public services to all.

Let us strengthen our efforts to collect and use reliable disaggregated data, so as to better understand and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Let us work to address the digital divide, and ensure that everyone has access to broadband internet, and the skills needed to effectively navigate it.

Let us develop the skills of public servants to work with technology effectively, and nurture innovation when we see it. 

In particular, let us do more to attract and support younger people to prepare for a life of public service. And in doing so, adopt their new ideas, their technological prowess, and their energy in sustaining a public service that is agile and responsive.

Finally, let us work to build partnerships: 

  • between the public and private sectors,
  • between developed and developing countries, and 
  • between government and the public.

These partnerships provide fertile ground for new ideas and innovative thinking. They are critical for the sharing of technology and new approaches for sustainable development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In closing, I extend a heartfelt thank you to public servants globally for the work you have done and continue to do. As we work to recover better, let us keep your motivation, service and innovation at the fore. 

I wish you a healthy and safe UN Public Service Day. 

I thank you.

File date: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Mr. Liu