30 January 2017

Activities of Secretary-General in Switzerland, 17-19 January

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday, 17 January, for a visit to Geneva and to Davos.

On 18 January, in Geneva, he participated in a press breakfast at the invitation of the Association of Correspondents accredited with the United Nations Office at Geneva, to whom the Secretary-General described, inter alia, the priorities of his programme.

Mr. Guterres then met with the Heads of the United Nations agencies and programmes based in Geneva, with whom he also shared his programme of action.  Also in the morning, the Secretary-General met with the United Nations staff in Geneva for the first time, described his priorities on matters regarding the Organization, and listened to the inputs of the staff representatives.

An official lunch in honour of the Secretary-General was hosted by the State Council of the Republic of Geneva, which was followed by meetings with the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, and with Alain Berset, Vice-President of the Swiss Confederation.

The Secretary-General thanked the Vice-President for Switzerland’s partnership with the United Nations, not only for hosting the United Nations Office in Geneva, but also supporting United Nations mediation efforts, as well as making Geneva an operational platform for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and humanitarian assistance.  They exchanged views on how to render prevention more effective across the entire spectrum of the United Nations’ work, from peace and security to human rights and sustainable development.

In the afternoon, Mr. Guterres also met with President Xi Jinping of China and the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson, before taking part in a high-level event with them before an audience of more than 800 representatives of Governments, private sector and civil society.

On Thursday, 19 January, the Secretary-General travelled to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum.  At a special session event titled “Cooperation for Peace:  Tackling the Root Causes of Global Crises”, he outlined his approach as Secretary-General, saying that he would focus the work of the United Nations on prevention.  He called for a massive effort in preventive diplomacy, but added that the best prevention for conflict is sustainable and inclusive development.

Governments, civil society and business must work together to make the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement a reality.  Turning to the business leaders, he said it was time for a new partnership with the business community.  He said there is a need to align business priorities with the core goals of the international community, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.  (See Press Release SG/SM/18411)

In addition to the main address, the Secretary-General also held a number of bilateral meetings.  He had separate meetings with Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan; Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

The Secretary-General departed Davos for Zurich late on Friday, 20 January.  He returned to New York from Zurich the following day.

For information media. Not an official record.