7 June 2015

In Germany, Secretary-General Hails Inauguration of World Conference Centre Bonn

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the official inauguration of the extension building of the World Conference Centre Bonn, in Bonn, Germany, today:

Ich freue mich, heute zu diesem besonderen Anlass bei Ihnen zu sein — der offiziellen Eröffnung des Weltkonferenzzentrums Bonn.  [It is a pleasure to join you for this special occasion — the official opening of the World Conference Centre Bonn.]  Ich gratuliere allen, die daran mitgewirkt haben, dieses Ereignis möglich zu machen.  [I congratulate all involved in making this achievement possible.]

The United Nations is grateful for the support of the German Government, North-Rhine Westphalia and Federal City of Bonn.  The United Nations in Bonn has blossomed in recent years.  Nearly 1,000 staff members now work here, spanning 18 agencies and a vast spectrum of the United Nations agenda — including climate change, land degradation, biodiversity, wildlife conservation, volunteerism, health, human security, disaster risk reduction, tourism, education and many other agendas.

The United Nations draws great strength from the presence in Bonn of several federal ministries, as well as the University of Bonn and the many non-governmental organization (NGO) and private sector partners that are based here.

Thanks to this combination of technical, policy and diplomatic skills, Bonn today is a truly global centre for sustainable development.  The World Conference Centre Bonn will be a cornerstone of this work, and underscores Germany's strong commitment to building a future of dignity for all.

The Centre’s opening takes place at a crucial juncture for people and the planet.  This year, 2015, is a year for global action — a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put our world on more peaceful, sustainable and equitable footing.

Tomorrow at Schloss Elmau outside of Munich, I will join the G7 (Group of Seven) leaders for an important series of meetings.  I will urge them, as leaders of the world’s largest economies, to uphold their moral and political responsibilities — and to take the difficult yet sensible steps that will achieve our goals.

Beyond the G7, three milestones will follow.  Next month in Addis Ababa, the International Conference on Financing for Development is an opportunity to mobilize the resources and technology to make our promises a reality.

In September in New York, the world leaders will gather to adopt a new development agenda with a set of sustainable development goals, SDGs, which will be the successor to the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.  The new agenda will build on the remarkable gains made under the Millennium Development Goals over the past two decades, when hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty.  The new framework will also go further by focusing on the key role of effective institutions, human rights and other elements that were not part of the MDG blueprint, but which are crucial for preventing conflict and promoting stability and peace.

And in December in Paris, countries will adopt a new and meaningful agreement on climate change.  Those are three priorities of the United Nations — it is not only the United Nations, [but] of the whole international community for humanity.  I count on the very strong engagement and leadership of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German Government.

Climate change is happening much faster than we think.  Paris must send the signals that will enable us to make a transition to low-carbon, resilient economies that provide prosperity while protecting the planet.  Our dear colleague Christiana Figueres is doing outstanding work in supporting the negotiations and pushing to keep ambition high.

These are three global meetings together make up one universal agenda.  They give us our best chance to end poverty — and our last chance to address the impact of the climate change phenomenon.  Moreover, these three stops — Addis Ababa, New York and Paris — are all benefitting from the work being done here in Bonn.

The United Nations entities in Bonn play an invaluable role in bringing stakeholders together.  You are strongly committed to collaborative work and holistic approaches.  I am confident that the expansion of this World Conference Centre Bonn will open up many new opportunities.  Bonn is a wonderful location — historic, pleasant, spacious and modern.  Many other United Nations facilities around the world are often fully booked.  This Conference Centre is poised to become an even more active meeting hub for the UN system and the international community.

Today’s inauguration comes at a time of test for the international community.  We are in the fifth year of a devastating conflict in Syria that continues to worsen.  Humanitarian suffering in Yemen is affecting millions of people.  These and other conflicts, along with poverty, persecution and other ills, have generated at least 50 million refugees and displaced persons around the world — the most number of refugees since the end of the Second World War.

The United Nations is working hard to address these challenges.  A high-level panel is currently assessing the state of our peace operations in order to keep pace with changing threats.  We are developing a comprehensive plan of action to prevent violent extremism and strengthening our efforts to act early to prevent human rights violations.  And of course, the new development agenda has a strong preventive orientation.

In this year in which we mark the Organization’s seventieth anniversary, we can look back on a record of solid achievement — while acknowledging the distance still to travel in fulfilling the vision set out in the United Nations Charter.  The UN in Bonn has much to contribute as we continue this journey together.

Abschließend möchte ich den deutschen Bundesbehörden und dem Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Bonn für ihre Unterstützung danken.  Mein Gruß gilt auch den Mitarbeitern der Vereinten Nationen in Bonn, deren Kreativität und Einsatzbereitschaft unsere Arbeit mit Leben erfüllt.  [Let me close by thanking the German federal authorities and Bonn’s Lord Mayor for their support.  I salute the UN staff in Bonn who bring our work to life with such creativity and dedication.]

Ihnen allen meine besten Wünsche dafür, dass dieses Konferenzzentrum zu einer Erfolgsgeschichte für Bonn wird, für die Vereinten Nationen und vor allem für die Menschen, denen wir dienen.  [I wish you all the best in making this Conference Centre a success story for Bonn, for the United Nations and most of all for the people we serve.]  Danke schön!  [Thank you!]

For information media. Not an official record.