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Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Speech

4 octobre 2013
Meeting with the Group of Friends of the Palais des Nations

Opening remarks by Mr. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Meeting with the Group of Friends
of the Palais des Nations

Palais des Nations, Geneva
4 October 2013

Excellencies
Distinguished Colleagues:

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this meeting of the Group of Friends of the Palais des Nations. I am grateful for your presence today. I know how busy the diplomatic community in Geneva is, at the Palais des Nations and elsewhere, but you remain engaged on the Strategic Heritage Plan and your attendance is very much appreciated. Safeguarding the Palais des Nations for future generations is a key priority for me as Director-General.

The purpose of this meeting is to brief you on developments since the last meeting of the Group of Friends in December of last year, and on next steps in the process towards implementation of the Strategic Heritage Plan. Since its establishment in 2008, the Group has provided indispensable leadership and guidance in the process of conceptualizing the Strategic Heritage Plan. It is crucial to us that you, our Member States in Geneva which the United Nations serves in this building, are an integral part of the process so that the eventual renovation responds to your needs.

As requested by Member States, the Report of the Secretary-General on the Strategic Heritage Plan for the United Nations Office at Geneva has now been finalized. This follows preliminary studies undertaken in 2013 with the assistance of a Programme Management firm. The Report will be issued soon and submitted during the 68th session of the General Assembly by the end of this year. The conclusions have already been presented to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions – ACABQ. UNOG’s Director of Administration, Mr. Clemens Adams, will outline the main conclusions later.

We are fully conscious of the financial commitment that implementation of the Strategic Heritage requires on the part of Member States, not least in view of the economic challenges faced by all at this time. This is why various options for financing the Plan have been explored to ensure the greatest possible cost-effectiveness. In this regard, the Swiss Federal Council approved an amendment to the policy of financing renovations of the property of international organizations and the Host Country may provide loans that could cover up to 50% of the total project cost, as approved by Member States.
The Strategic Heritage Plan is vital for the future of the Palais des Nations, which belongs to all of us. I sincerely hope that Member States will approve the Secretary-General's recommendations, bearing in mind that the design work for renovations needs to be done as a next step so as to ensure that the actual construction works can start by early 2017.

As you have noticed, major renovation works are also in progress this year to improve the energy efficiency of the Palais des Nations in the context of the Strategic Heritage Plan. These works are funded thanks to the generous donation of 50 million Swiss francs made by the Swiss Confederation to the Organization to this end.

I appreciate this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to Ambassador Fasel for the continued support and leadership in relation to the protection of the Palais des Nations.

Alongside the longer-term efforts for the Strategic Heritage Plan, UNOG will continue to solicit voluntary donations and contributions from Member States to renovate conference rooms. Many Member States have already contributed, which we sincerely appreciate and we thank all of them. With respect to current and future projects, UNOG is grateful to the Republic of Kazakhstan for the renovation of conference room XIV, which was recently completed, and to the States of Qatar and Turkmenistan for the future renovation of conference rooms XIX and I.

I take this opportunity to thank you again for your engagement in the process of preservation of the Palais des Nations to ensure that this exceptional building will continue to serve as a safe, cost-effective and sustainable conference centre in the service of multilateralism.

Thank you very much.