Board of Regents.
And very especially — dear graduates.
Allow me to say first and foremost: Congratulations Class of 2022!
I’m deeply grateful for this Honorary Degree — which I accept on behalf of the women and men of the United Nations, working tirelessly for peace, sustainable development and human rights around the world.
But this is your day.
Moments like this are precious and rare.
The journey to graduation day is never an easy one.
[All-English version; scroll down for bilingual as delivered version]
Mr. President, Excellencies,
When war is waged, people go hungry.
Some sixty percent of the world’s undernourished people live in areas affected by conflict.
No country is immune. In April, the World Food Programme and its partners distributed food and cash to more than 3 million Ukrainians. Until March, their country was feeding the world with abundant supplies of food.
Two weeks ago, I visited the Sahel region of Africa, where I met families who do not know where their next meal is coming from. Severe acute malnutrition – a wasting disease that can kill if left untreated – is rising. Farm animals are already dying of hunger.
Leaders told me that because of the war in Ukraine, on top of the other crises they face, they fear this dangerous situation could tip into catastrophe.
In a world in crisis, rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals is more important than ever. And I mean what I said. When we see most of the SDGs moving backwards by the accumulation of crises we are facing, to rescue them must be our highest common priority.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of some 15 million lives.
It pushed about 100 million people into poverty in 2020 alone. And it has set back human development, especially women’s rights, by a full generation.
Chancellor Nehammer, ladies and gentlemen of the press, Minister Schallenberg, I want to begin by expressing my deep gratitude for your country’s generous support to the United Nations and unwavering commitment to multilateralism.
This support and commitment are more critical today than ever.
We face multiple and interlinked global crises, and a proliferation of conflicts – not least the Russian invasion of Ukraine which is a violation of its territorial integrity and a violation of the Charter of the United Nations.
I want to thank President Van der Bellen, and please convey my deep gratitude to the Government and people of Austria for their excellent hospitality in relation to this visit, but also structural hospitality for the UN agencies in Vienna – an outstanding place to work due to the generosity of the Austrian government and Austrian people.
It is wonderful to be back in Vienna – an important hub of the international system and a cherished home for many United Nations entities.
I thank H.E. Ms. Mariam bint Ali bin Nasser Al-Misnad, Minister of Social Development and the Family of the State of Qatar, and H.E. Prof. Jeannette Bayisenge, Minister of Gender and Family Promotion of Rwanda, for their support and commitment to advancing gender parity.
The Group of Friends has been an important and strong partner to the Organization in our journey towards gender parity.
It is a great pleasure to be here with all of you.
The Town Hall during the Commission on the Status of Women is an important and regular fixture in my calendar. I never miss it. I welcome this opportunity to meet with women’s organizations and feminist civil society, and to hear your ideas and concerns as I’ve said.
Let’s be clear.
Gender equality is essentially a question of power. And power has for millennia been concentrated in the hands of men, to the detriment of all.