3 October 2012
“Colorful Yunnan” (in english and chinese)
Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva
Palais des Nations, Assembly Hall
Wednesday, 3 October 2012 at 7 p.m.
Ambassador Mr. Liu Zhenmin,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I truly value the ongoing efforts of the Permanent Mission to share the culture of China with the international community here at the Palais des Nations. Last year we were treated to an exploration of the Sichuan province. This year, we have the great fortune to discover Yunnan, one of China’s most diverse provinces.
Yunnan is diverse in a number of ways. First, its multiethnicity. It has the second highest number of ethnic groups among all of the provinces and autonomous regions in China. From this multiethnicity comes impressive linguistic and cultural diversity. It is expressed through the food, dress, music and dance of the people of Yunnan. And it is exemplified by the ensemble of performers here tonight. No less than eleven different ethnicities are represented in this group, bringing a wealth of experience and cultural nuance to the stage.
The Yunnan province is also known for its biological diversity. Home to snow-capped mountains as well as tropical environments, the province supports an unusually full spectrum of species and vegetation types, including around 17,000 species of plants. It is difficult to imagine, but the Yunnan Province has less than 4 per cent of the land of China, yet contains about half of China's birds and mammals. Therefore it is very understandable why the capital of Yunnan, the beautiful city Kunming is called “the city of eternal spring”.
The United Nations supports efforts to protect both cultural and biological diversity worldwide, and recognizes the importance of doing so. This is because they are both essential components of sustainable development.
Today, there is a wider understanding that reduced cultural and environmental diversity poses a threat to global stability and that it makes the world and its inhabitants increasingly vulnerable. The sustainability of both forms of diversity, which are closely inter-connected, is crucial for building the future we want.
I would like to thank the Permanent Mission of China once again for bringing this true demonstration of diversity to the Palais des Nations and for sharing the magnificent culture of China with us tonight.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy the performance.