New York and Geneva (UNOSDP) — On 6 December, H.E. Mr. Heiko Thoms, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations, hosted a reception in New York to bid farewell to the Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace. Wilfried Lemke was joined by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mark the end of his 8-year term as the top UN official on sport.
The Special Adviser took the opportunity to thank the Secretary-General for having trusted him to carry out this work for the last years.
“I am immensely proud of the progress that we have made together, which could not have been at all possible without all of your support, dedication and commitment,” said Mr. Lemke “But there is a need to deliver more affirmative action on the ground in these key areas, through more inclusive, diverse and stronger partnerships.”
On his end, Mr. Ban acknowledged the crucial collaboration of Mr. Lemke on Sport for Development and Peace.
"You have carried out important tasks and built bridges," Mr. Ban said citing improved cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in particular. "I thank you for your leadership qualities and engagement."
Farewell reception in Geneva
Mr. Lemke also celebrated his end of mandate in Geneva, during a farewell gathering organized by H.E. Mr. Hans-Joachim Daerr, Ambassador, Permanent Representative ad interim of Germany to the Office of the United Nations in Geneva on 13 December.
While thanking Mr. Daerr and Germany for its support to the field of Sport for Development and Peace, UNOSDP partners and UN staff, Mr. Lemke highlighted that “even in the most intractable conflicts, we should never stop pursing dialogue”, and that “sport is a great universal channel of communication”.
Following a speech from Ambassador Daerr, IOC President Thomas Bach said that “everything that Wilfried Lemke has done for the world of Sport for Development and Peace, he has done it with all his heart” adding that the “UN-IOC relationship will not stop with the end of your mandate, we will keep our close partnership with the United Nations”.
A sustainable legacy
Wilfried Lemke has put his extensive professional experience in both sports and politics to serve the United Nations for the last 8 years. He established five work priorities: conflict resolution, gender equality, development of Africa, inclusion of persons with disabilities, and youth development.
In regard to those areas, a significant achievement of Mr. Lemke has been the development of UNOSDP’s Youth Leadership Programme since 2012. Having already held 23 camps in four different continents, bringing more than 800 participants together, in which 25 were persons with disabilities, the Programme harnesses the power of sport in a concrete and practical manner.
“The Youth Leadership Programme has been the flagship initiative of UNOSDP and one that has had tremendous positive impact in communities around the world” said Mr. Lemke “I will do my best for this programme to keep changing lives.”
As Special Adviser, Mr. Lemke was able to establish and further strengthen many successful partnerships between the UN and a variety of stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, and in particular sport organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, which was granted observer status at the UN in 2009, the International Paralympic Committee, as well as numerous international federations that support Sport for Development and Peace efforts.