Your Excellency Mr. João Cravinho, Foreign Minister of the Portuguese Republic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to represent the United Nations at this ceremony to raise the Portuguese and UN flags at the Altice Arena in Lisbon.
This symbolic event marks the beginning of UN operations at the venue of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, which will be held here from 27 June to 1 July.
We would not have reached this historic milestone without close and fruitful cooperation between the United Nations and the two co-hosts of the Conference, Portugal and Kenya, during months of preparation. We are deeply appreciative of their leadership, commitment and dedication.
As the Conference Secretary-General, I am pleased to receive the venue in Conference-ready condition. I am grateful for the hard work of the thousands of people in Portugal, who have devoted their services to the completion of the Conference venue.
I would like to express my profound appreciation to you, Mr. Foreign Minister, for your extraordinary leadership in guiding the preparations for this historic Conference.
Our sincere thanks also go to the Portuguese National Steering Committee, chaired by Ambassador Pedro de Almeida, for their tireless efforts leading the day-to-day work and the steadfast support and collaboration they have offered us since 2019. The team spirit has been strong.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Portuguese hospitality. Thanks to the Portuguese Government and people for making the UN feel at home in Lisbon, not just for our SG Antonio Guterres, but also for all our UN staff.
In the coming week, we will be working hard and working together to bring the UN Ocean Conference to a successful conclusion to deliver on our commitment to save our ocean and to save our planet.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank all our Portuguese and Kenyan colleagues and wish all of us a successful Conference.