New York

11 September 2013

Secretary-General's Remarks at the Screening of "Planet Ocean" by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

I would like to thank Omega for supporting tonight's event and for its efforts to support organizations that strive to protect our oceans and raise awareness of critical environmental issues. May I also take this opportunity to encourage Omega to take an additional step and join the UN Global Compact, our corporate sustainability initiative.

The author of the film we are about to see once said: “The Earth is art, the photographer is only witness.”

As a photographer, journalist, film-maker and environmentalist, Yann Arthus-Bertrand has been bearing witness to the Earth’s beauty for half a century.

He has been on a mission to bring that beauty to the widest possible audience since he was a seventeen-year-old director’s assistant.

Yann’s books are admired in homes, schools, libraries.

His images grace galleries and museums, billboards, airports and subways.

They help us see the magnificence of our shared planet -- and also its fragility.

It is no coincidence that Yann is a committed conservationist.

His images portray a world in transition.

Melting sea-ice, endangered atolls, encroaching deserts, seething slums.

In “Planet Ocean,” Yann reveals the mysteries of the seas and sounds a warning about the urgent need to protect.

Last year, I met with the crew of the research vessel Tara, which is featured in the film.

It docked in New York as part of a global voyage, supported in part by UNEP and UNESCO, to raise awareness and increase knowledge about oceans and the challenges they face. 

We talked about their work and the UN’s own initiatives to promote healthy oceans for prosperity.

As we work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and define a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, I hope this film can help to generate political momentum to safeguard our oceans.

I also look forward to hearing more about Yann’s next project highlighting the richness and diversity of humanity.

Yann has long been a valued ambassador for the UN.

His pictures are worth thousands of words.

I thank him for service on behalf of people and the planet and urge him to keep up his good work in the future.

Thank you.