New York

14 November 2021

Deputy Secretary-General's video message to the 17th International Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibition

Ladies and gentlemen,

In a world physically pushed apart by COVID-19, the question posed by this Venice Biennale Architecture Exhibition – “How will we live together?” – has deep resonance and relevance.

I began my own career in an architect’s office and have often reflected on how architecture both mirrors and shapes the social systems and cultural values of its time.

Today, confronting a cascade of crises – from poverty and inequalities, conflicts and climate change, to mistrust and division – we must change course.

The pandemic must be an inflection point for bold  transformation in the ways we live, consume, and interact with each other and the world around us.

To come together, we need stronger international cooperation. We need to renew the social contract. And we need a new spatial contract.

We need architecture to imagine new spaces and join in our collective effort to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient world:

Designing affordable, green, and liveable settlements;

Embracing sustainability, facilitating the circular economy, prioritising inclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable in society;

Providing affordable shelter in the rapidly growing cities of the developing world;

Devising climate-resilient buildings, and rejuvenating aging urban areas.

We have the blueprints: the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals set out targets for inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements.

The New Urban Agenda outlines how we can harness the power of sustainable urbanisation as a force for social cohesion, better health, environmental sustainability, and economic transformation.

And with the Local2030 Coalition, we can accelerate action on the ground.

We need to act across geographies and levels, from the global arena to the local spaces we live in, shaped by the architecture that surrounds us.

By bringing together artists, architects, academics and engineers from every corner of the world to reflect on our common humanity and imagine our shared future, the Biennale makes a unique contribution to this vital effort.

I look forward to learning what this Biennale will yield, and wish you every success.

Thank you.