Celebrating ESCAP Together

Remarks Delivered by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer,
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations & Executive Secretary of
the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Staff Day 2013
Bangkok, 16 July 2013

Chair of the ESCAP Staff Council, Khun Teera,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to join you all today to celebrate ESCAP Staff Day 2013.

Let me start by thanking our Staff Council, for the great work which they have done in planning and managing such an enjoyable event. I would especially like to recognize and thank Khun Teera and his team, who have worked tirelessly to organize this opportunity for shared fun, and to celebrate our work, our achievements, and our pride in being ESCAP staff.

As we come together, to celebrate our strengths, build new friendships, and cement the bonds of ESCAP teamwork, we should also take a moment to remember that Staff Day is all about our staff.

Although we specifically honor our retirees and longest serving colleagues today, we should also recall and recognize the important work and energy of every staff member, in every division, section, subregional office, and regional institution.

I have deeply cherished the opportunities to learn from you, to serve with you, and to share in the accomplishments, challenges, and growth of this remarkable Commission.

We have managed, together, to build the Commission into the ‘come to place’ for the people of Asia and the Pacific. Take a moment when next you pass our timeline wall downstairs, to recall how much has been achieved by the region and by ESCAP.

We have changed mindsets about development and growth – regionally and in member States, and we are now helping to position our region to ensure the future we want, not just for ourselves but for our children and for all humanity: one of inclusive, sustainable, and resilient prosperity for our people and our planet.

I am particularly proud of the type of organization we have helped to create together: one which builds on the strengths of all our regional commissions, but which also has established new relevance and new value by focusing very firmly on the future.

ESCAP today is recognized by our member States, our development partners, and throughout the United Nations, as a model for intergovernmental consensus-building, organizational innovation, and developmental excellence, and I hope we will continue on this path.

I hope you will also agree that, just as importantly, ESCAP is a great place to work. I am especially proud of our achievements during the past year. In the face of enormous challenges, such as budget reductions, system reform, and additional mandates, we have not only persevered, but and set new standards of solidarity and achievement.

One of the most touching moments for me, in my time at ESCAP, was when a President of the Staff Council told me that the Council supported my reforms because we were building genuine internal justice and a sense of fairness together. None of this would have been possible without your commitment, your perseverance, and your professionalism.

It is critical, dear colleagues, to protect the platforms for dialogue between staff and management, just as it is critical for us all to accept our shared responsibility to ensure development for the people of our region – and I am fully committed to this.

Whatever our challenges may be, I would urge that we never forget why we first joined the United Nations. We are some of the lucky few whose work can truly change lives, guided by the values of the UN Charter.

It is important to remind ourselves, every day, of those guiding principles. That is why I decided to display them on the pillars outside ESCAP Hall; why the Charter now hangs at the entrance to the dining room; and why we now begin our annual Commission session with a tribute to these values, which are the compass that will allow us to make a real difference in our world.

Sometimes it is difficult to see the connection between our everyday work and the powerful mission of this unique global family. But whatever your job, whether you translate documents, arrange schedules, coordinate meetings, maintain our beautiful compound and built environment, or make sure our computers run - every task, every day, contributes to our common mission: a stronger United Nations for a better and safer world.

I want to say that sometimes we see the UN as just a building – whether in New York or in Bangkok – but the reality is that each of us is the United Nations, and together we are a community that can make a difference.

And with that, I am pleased to officially open Staff Day 2013.

I thank you all.