6 December 2012
Public-Private Partnership Seminar
Statement of Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations, Room V
Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 10:00 a.m.
Delivered by Mr. Joshua Lincoln, Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Director-General
Executive Secretary Alkalaj,
Distinguished ambassadors and experts,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a particular pleasure for UNOG to host this seminar exploring Public-Private Partnership options in the renovation of public buildings, in the context of the proposed Strategic Heritage Plan (SHP).
As you know, the SHP is essential to ensuring that the Palais des Nations will continue to serve as a safe, cost-effective and sustainable conference centre to support multi-lateral diplomacy.
Public-Private Partnerships represent an important potential approach to realizing the goals of the SHP, which is why Member States have mandated us to explore in greater detail how they may be applied in this context.
In this respect, we discovered that part of the solution was already in the building. The ECE has in-depth knowledge of PPP, a strong network of PPP expertise including on procuring buildings through PPP, and a mandate to undertake PPP capacity-building.
On that basis, UNOG and the ECE formally agreed last month to cooperate in this task. The Director-General of UNOG has asked me to renew his appreciation here today to you, Executive Secretary Alkalaj, and to the ECE for this cooperation.
This room, Salle V, is a fitting place for today’s seminar. It is part of the original Palais, built by and for the League of Nations, between 1928 and 1936. When completed, it included a massive engraved world map behind this podium, showing the “rayonnement” of the League of Nations. At the time, the League had roughly 58 members, and there was therefore a much smaller number of tables and seats. As the membership of its successor institution, the United Nations, grew to its present count of 193 Member States, so did the number of tables and seats. The mural had to give way to interpretation booths for the six working languages of the now universal organization.
What is not seen in a room like this is the ageing and decaying infrastructure of the building itself, which is the pressing reason for the SHP.
This background underlines the fact that this room, and the Palais as a whole, is a physical reflection of political, developmental and technological change. It is both the historic home of international organization, and a living symbol of its evolution over time, often through crisis.
It is our responsibility therefore to explore all options to ensure a successful renovation of what is our unique common cultural and architectural heritage, while ensuring that the Palais will continue to serve as a fully-functional, modern diplomatic conference centre.
Today’s seminar is part of an inclusive process to enable the presentation of a well-balanced and professional report on the SHP to the UN General Assembly in New York in 2013 for Member States to decide how to take forward the SHP.
In closing, I thank you all for your active participation in this important undertaking, and for your attention.