New York

08 June 2012

Secretary-General's remarks for United Nations Bike Ride in support of Rio+20 [As prepared for delivery]

I thank all the partners who have made this event possible. I wish I could ride, but I broke my steering wheel! [HOLD UP HAND]

Ambassador Schaper, the Netherlands has long been very bicycle-friendly.  Thank you for organizing this event with so many good friends of the United Nations.

Kenyans also know the value of bicycles. Thank you very much, Ambassador Kamau, for donating one of Nairobi’s bike taxis. We hope to display it here at United Nations Headquarters for all our visitors to see.

New York is our great host city – and a place where bike ridership continues to grow dramatically.  Commissioner Sadik-Khan, you and Mayor Bloomberg are making the city that never sleeps the city that always bikes! I am very happy to know that when your new Bike Share system is launched next month, there will be bike stations here in our neighbourhood.

I would much rather see bicycles and bike-riders around here than the limousines, armoured SUVs and other gas-guzzling cars that we all use at the United Nations!

Maybe I should ask my security detail whether I can bike to work – but they would probably have a heart attack at the thought.

But of course, bikes do not give heart attacks – they prevent them.

Last year, in a speech on health, I mentioned that bikes are great for our bodies and for our planet.  The next day, a blog called me “the world’s newest biking advocate”.

I like that title. And it is true that at the United Nations, we have added more bike racks since more staff are biking to work.

Bicycles are important, but they are just part of a bigger picture: our global efforts to achieve truly sustainable development.

Our challenge is to get the world to use renewable energy to power our trains, planes, buses and boats.  This is especially important for cities.

More broadly, we need a cleaner, greener approach to development.

The upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, is our chance to agree on how to build the future we want – a future that is more equitable, more prosperous, and more respectful of the planet’s limited resources.

Let us have fun riding today. Bikes can help transport us to a better tomorrow.

Thank you.