UNOPS

UN Ocean Conference Evening Reception with WATO

Opening remarks by Grete Faremo, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) 

UN Ocean Conference

UN Ocean Conference Evening Reception with WATO.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017, One UN New York Hotel ​


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Good evening, all,

It's great to see everyone here.

It's been such a busy week so far, but also one so full of promise and hope.

I've gone to several events and meetings over the past three days.

The discussions I've had and the speeches I've heard all revolve around a common theme – a need to raise awareness on the plight of the world's oceans, and an urgent need to implement much-needed projects quickly and efficiency.

Another overarching theme is the importance that we work together in order to accomplish this.

When we talk about awareness, action and togetherness, it leads us nicely into UNOPS partnership with We Are The Oceans, or WATO.

UNOPS is an implementing organization of the UN. We do not have an advocacy mandate.

What we do is projects – resilient infrastructure in many of the world's hardest to reach places, as well as sustainable procurement that helps sustain vital services.

But what we haven't done a lot of is build awareness.

Of course, we speak about our projects and we are very proud of them.

But we want to speak to a larger audience and work with partners that have a platform to speak loudly and widely on the issue of oceans.

This issue is very near and dear to us at UNOPS.

We work in many small island developing states and have been called upon to help countries, such as Haiti, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, recover from natural disasters and further protect themselves from the future effects of climate change.

I read a line last week that really stuck with me: "The ocean sustains humanity; but humanity treats it with contempt."

We must stop this!

And I am confident that our partnership with WATO is an important step in that direction.

Younger generations have an important stake in the sustainability of oceans and marine life.

But how do we reach them?

This is where our friends at WATO come in.

Their platform reaches out to a group of people who are hyper-connected.

Via the intranet and social media, they are tech savvy and socially conscious.

These younger generations have the power and the voice to make small and big changes.

I am happy that WATO is using this platform, particularly through music, which I am well acquainted with.

Aside from my past life as a Norwegian politician and my current position as Executive Director of UNOPS, I have also been a life-long singer.

WATO is of course also using gaming, which I must admit I am less well acquainted with.

The power of music is strong. Our finest moments in life are often enriched through music.

Calling for change in behaviour through the language of music and gaming gives us huge global reach.

This is about connecting our daily lives to global solutions ​and protecting our oceans, which will help us make a difference to life on land and, in turn, the crucial work and projects UNOPS implements in the communities that need it most.

Being on the front line, UNOPS has seen the devastating effects that climate change can wreak: rising sea levels and depleting marine life can have a tremendous impact on the lives of billions of people.

We are the people on the ground.

But now we need the voices of those online to change their behaviour.

And to support communities through engagement with vital projects.

Thank you to Daisy, Jude and Will for working with us. I think we are going to do a lot of great things together.

In the meantime, I invite you to enjoy the evening, the entertainment and the conversation.

Thank you.