Secretary-General opens UN City in Copenhagen

The new UN City in Copenhagen was officially opened yesterday by the United Nations Secretary-General, Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark and the Danish Prime Minister.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the "beautiful and inspiring" new complex "a shining example" for creating a more efficient, coherent and carbon neutral UN.

The Prime Minister of Denmark, Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt said: "The UN represents a vision of a world order based on peace, joint-prosperity, rule of law and respect for human rights. A world order that Denmark wants to support, strengthen and expand."

Before the ceremony the VIPs toured the building, which won the 2012 EU Commission's Green Building Award, with the Queen, Prime Minister and Secretary-General being shown the WHO Emergency Operations Centre and the UNOPS global headquarters.

The inauguration, organized by the Danish foreign ministry, included a mountain climber who rappelled down four floors in the central atrium to deliver scissors for the ribbon-cutting ceremony, as well as a performance from popular band Efterklang.

The mood was one of celebration as the eight UN organizations based in the UN City joined forces to thank the Danish Government for their gift of the cutting-edge 'green' office space. The building, according to the Foreign Ministry, was created "to enhance efficiency and foster collaboration" across UN organizations.

During the opening ceremony the Secretary-General said: "From the rows of parked bicycles to the wind turbines out to sea, I see proof that we can tackle the climate challenges that face us. From solar panels to seawater cooling and external metal blinds to regulate light and heat, UN City shows what can be achieved.

"UN City is an example of how modern, energy-efficient offices can
play their part in building the future we want. But it is what happens inside these buildings and the change it can make around the world that is most important," Mr Ban added.

During the ceremony an employee of the United Nations also spoke to describe the experience of working in the new building. Ms Lorena Pontes Masri, 28, said: "I love to come here each morning. I am so proud to work for the United Nations, and so proud of our new home. It is a building that inspires, but also sets us a challenge. The challenge to work differently, the challenge to innovate, the challenge to make one UN a reality."

The Secretary-General added that Denmark should be "rightly proud of its contribution", noting that is it one of a handful of nations "to meet the United Nations target of devoting at least 0.7 percent of gross national income to official development assistance".

Ms Thorning-Schmidt also used the opportunity to commit to maintaining Denmark’s current

high level of overseas aid into next year.

The inauguration was attended by around 1,000 guests, including the Mayor of Copenhagen and other high profile Danish politicians, as well as a number of Copenhagen-based ambassadors and business leaders. Hundreds of United Nations employees came from the different organizations housed in UN City, including UNOPS, the UN Development Programme (UNDP); the UN Population Fund (UNFPA); the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); the World Food Programme (WFP); the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women); and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Once the second phase of the complex is complete, UN City will house around 1,200 personnel from these eight UN organizations, providing support to crucial humanitarian, peacebuilding and development operations around the world.