31 March 2011

Remarks at the opening of a new facility at Gigiri, Nairobi

Ban Ki-moon

Your Excellency, President [Mwai] Kibaki,
Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank President Kibaki for joining us. I am also pleased to welcome members of the diplomatic community in Nairobi.

We are here to officially inaugurate this new, wonderful facility. I am so impressed by this building, I wish I could move here full-time!

This building is beautiful, comfortable and efficient. But more than any of that, this building is a living model of our sustainable future.

Because, ladies and gentlemen, if our growing population is going to survive on this planet, we need smart designs that maximize resources ... minimize waste, and serve people and communities.

This facility hits all of these targets. We are making the most of Nairobi's beautiful sunshine, its biodiversity, its rainwater. We are using more efficient computers, plumbing and lights.

And inside this building – this example of how to preserve the global environment – our staff are working to help countries and cities around the world achieve sustainable development.

This facility embodies the new, green economy I have championed for years now. An economy that can usher in a cleaner future, create jobs and spur economic growth.

The UN Environment Programme and UN-HABITAT are leading this effort. You are working hard to reduce your own carbon footprint. And today, you formally open a facility that ranks among the most energy-efficient in the world.


Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope all UN offices can follow Gigiri's example. In New York, we are doing a major renovation, but New York is not Nairobi. Sometimes I wish it were! We have some sunny days, but nothing like the beautiful, bright sunshine you get here, so close to the equator.

Still, we are working hard to cut back on our energy use and increase our efficiency. We are planning to harvest rainwater just like at this building. And beyond Headquarters, UN offices around the world are going green. I hope they all reach the very high bar you have set.

I congratulate all the staff members, architects and contractors who worked so hard to bring us to this day.

The opening of this facility, this model for green architecture in Africa and beyond, is a milestone on the road to the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio.

Rio+20 is not just a gathering of governments meeting to review international progress on sustainable development. It is about our very future – and the future of life on our planet. Our ecosystems and our air, our food supply and our water, our shared fate on this earth.

The stakes are very high. But seeing this building, this picture of our new, green future, my hopes are even higher.

So it is with great pride and pleasure that I officially open this new facility for the UN family and our partners. May its sunlight and gardens inspire us all to work even harder to protect this planet – our only home.

Thank you.