His Excellency Mr. Ashok Sridharan, the Mayor of Bonn;
His Excellency Mr. Franz-Josef Lersch-Mense, Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media and Head of the Chancellery of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia;
My colleagues and friends, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to speak to you on behalf of the heads of the United Nations agencies based in Bonn and Germany.
“Nachhaltigkeit. Sustainability. Durabilité. Bonn.” is one of the city slogans. The slogan illustrates the linkage of the city and the work of the United Nations based here. In Bonn, we have consolidated key UN resources to create a space to realize a safer, healthier and more secure world. With the slogan, “Shaping a sustainable future”, we work towards a world where all have the chance to live decent lives, now and in the future. Over the years, we have been enjoying the excellent support and hospitality of NRW and Bonn. This makes our daily operation smooth.
Every agency based in the UN campus also has something to contribute to the people of Germany. Let’s take my office, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, for example. For German people, as in much of the developed world, desertification sounds and feels very far away from everyday life. But let us be clear that desertification is not about deserts. It essentially means the loss of productive land, and it can happen anywhere. What is important to note is that in rural areas where people depend mostly on agriculture, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.
A number of researchers point to the linkage between the current Syrian crisis and the country’s devastating drought started in 2006. As conditions become drier because of Climate Change, an estimated 60 million people are at risk of moving from the desertified areas of sub-Saharan Africa within the next thirty years. They are moving towards North Africa and Europe. By this example, you see also the linkages between land, climate change and biodiversity, helping to create the necessary synergies for a better future and to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
All 18 UN organizations in Bonn work on issues that benefit people in Germany. From research and vocational training to nurturing volunteerism and capacity building, UN Bonn works towards building a sustainable future that people in every country around the world can enjoy. And of course, it is not only the UN organizations but a flourishing community of international organizations, government agencies and NGOs in Bonn shares the same aspiration of achieving a sustainable future. The combination of technical expertise and political will in Bonn creates a unique opportunity for partnership. Together, we can build a better world where no one is left behind.
That should all bring us “Freude. Joy. Joie”, as another city of Bonn slogan goes. We thank the City of Bonn and the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen for providing this wonderful occasion to strengthen our partnership. I wish you all an enjoyable evening.
Article General-Anzeiger, Bonn 23 March 2017 (English),