New York

30 October 2013

Secretary-General;s remarks at the "Pillar of New York" Awards Gala [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you for this honour.  It is with great pleasure that I accept the “Pillar of New York” award on behalf of the United Nations.

The United Nations is at home all over the world.

But our home base is here in New York.

It is in this great city that we have our Headquarters -- an ensemble of iconic buildings designed by an international team of renowned architects, all working under the skilful direction of New York’s own Wallace Harrison.

The complex they gave us became a powerful symbol of the United Nations, not only setting standards for modern architecture, but also generating enormous goodwill for the Organization.

For decades, our Headquarters complex has served us well. It has provided us with an inspiring work environment. It has welcomed visitors from all over the world.

But buildings age.  Although ours has grown old gracefully, the wear and tear have taken a toll.

Fortunately, our Member States wisely chose to renovate rather than replace the buildings. In embarking on what we call the United Nations Capital Master Plan, they also put a priority on preserving the Headquarters’ architectural integrity.

Today many of you visited our beautifully renovated Council Chambers, and saw the results of the Capital Master Plan team under Michael Adlerstein.

In many instances, where various changes had been made over the years, we returned to the original design intent. 

At the same time, the renovated Headquarters meets strict security requirements  and will be vastly more energy efficient and climate-friendly.

We will also be more resilient in the face of disasters.  Let me express my solidarity once again with all those in the metropolitan area who suffered -- and are still suffering -- the consequences of superstorm Sandy one year ago yesterday.

We remain committed to working across the world to reduce disaster risk and build a safer tomorrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The overhaul of the UN compound will reach its last major milestone with the completion of the General Assembly Building.  Less than a year from now, the Assembly’s great dome will shine once more.

The message is clear: mid-century modern is a classic fit for the United Nations of the 21st century.

What matters most, of course, is what we do inside these halls and walls.

Our world is changing dramatically – politically, economically, environmentally, demographically. 

We have tremendous opportunity.  We are the first generation with the knowledge and technology to end extreme poverty.

Yet people and the planet face enormous pressures: a warming climate, unresolved conflicts, rising inequality and youth without jobs.

The United Nations continues to feed the hungry, fight disease and press for a nuclear-weapon-free world.  We are strengthening peacekeeping, peacebuilding and preventive diplomacy as well as our tools for justice and accountability.

Our aim is to address the crises of today while building solid foundations for tomorrow.

In that same spirit, we at the United Nations thank you for naming us a pillar of New York.

Thank you for recognizing our commitment to the important work of preservation.  And thank you for your help across our agenda of common progress.