Let me begin by extending the deepest apologies of the Secretary-General. He is battling a merciless cold that unfortunately has forced him to stay away from the office today.
It is a pleasure to join you on his behalf to celebrate the staff members who are this year’s finalists and winners of the Secretary-General Awards.
It is especially appropriate that we honour these staff on United Nations Day, when we commemorate the adoption of our Charter.
The staff who bring that Charter to life every day are our greatest asset.
We see this again among the projects we honour today.
Our staff continue to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Our people across the world, at all levels, are striving to improve the way we work -- taking the initiative and helping move our Organization forward.
That spirit of innovation is especially important at this time of great challenge.
The global landscape is filled with conflict, humanitarian crises, human rights abuses, increasing environmental challenges, and economic and social inequities.
But we also have compelling opportunities to advance common progress – if we work together in common cause.
Multilateralism is more important than ever.
But multilateralism must show its added value.
The United Nations must keep pace and work effectively and accountably to address the challenges that matter most to the people we serve.
That is why the Secretary-General is so strongly pursuing an agenda of reform.
And that is why these awards are so inspiring.
They make it very clear that there is a deep-seated readiness on the part of the staff for change throughout our Organization.
I understand that the number of nominations this year was higher than usual -- a welcome sign of staff engagement.
I also understand that the “innovation” category was especially crowded -- and that many of the projects focus on using technology to accelerate our work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Thanks to the imagination of our staff, our Organization is bursting with creativity.
It is the job of the leaders of this organization, and including management, to create an environment in which staff ideas and skills can flourish, for the benefit of humankind.
On behalf of the Secretary-General, I again thank the winners, finalists and all participants for your dedication and commitment.
You are an inspiration to us all.