New York

31 July 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at ceremony marking Bike Rack Donation by The Netherlands [as prepared for delivery]

Few nations are as bike crazy as the Netherlands.

The Dutch have long known that bike travel is efficient, environmentally friendly and good for one’s health.

We at the United Nations and our neighbours here in New York City are catching on and catching up.

The city’s new bike share programme, inspired in part by the Netherlands, already has thousands of users.  It is so popular in this neighbourhood that at the end of the working day, it can be hard to find a bike at the nearby racks on First Avenue and in the surrounding blocks.

Here on the UN grounds, our bike racks have been getting more and more crowded.  They are also old and showing their age.

So I am thrilled that the Netherlands is donating these new and modern bike racks.  I am sure they will be welcomed by the growing numbers of staff who are commuting by bike.

Just last month, during a visit to China, I rode a bike during a break in the programme.  With these new racks, perhaps you will see me out for a spin around UN Headquarters!

Ambassador Schaper, for almost four years now you have been an effective diplomat on behalf of your country.  You have also been a great advocate of bike-riding.

Last summer, on the eve of the Rio+20 conference, you led dozens of people on a short bike trip from here to your residence to raise awareness about sustainable transport.  Now, as the wheels of diplomatic assignments turn and you move on from New York, we thank you for being the “cycling ambassador”.

And we thank you, the Government and the people of the Netherlands for yet another display of support for the United Nations and for our efforts to build a sustainable future for all.

Thank you.