The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
14th Meeting of National Recruitment Services and UN Organizations on the JPO Programmes
Opening remarks by Jorge Moreira da Silva, UNOPS Executive Director – Copenhagen, 17-19 October 2023
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On behalf of UN City in Copenhagen - let me extend a warm welcome to you all to this beautiful city.
I am also very pleased to welcome you to the 14th meeting between donor governments and UN organizations on the JPO Programme. This is the first face-to-face such meeting since the pandemic and we are very pleased to host this meeting in the UN City in Copenhagen.
I would like to first of all express my appreciation to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for hosting the meeting together with UNDP and UNDESA.
The UN City in Copenhagen is an apt venue for a meeting among UN Organizations and national governments. And I look forward to conversations on advancing collaboration across the UN system and the donor community on the JPO Programme – and to discuss how we can harmonize approaches and streamline procedures.
This meeting also comes at a special time for us as we gear up to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the UN City in Copenhagen. In this time, not only have we seen gains and efficiencies as a result of this exercise, but our UN City has also become a hub where organizations collaborate, share knowledge and work with experts from different fields.
I hope that the UN City will be an enabling environment for your collaboration in the coming days, and that it may inspire new thinking for your work ahead.
Allow me to briefly share some information about UN City.
We are a big and diverse group - 11 agencies, and around 2000 colleagues who work across our two campuses.
Campus 1 – where we are now opened in 2013 and houses 1,600 employees from 108 different countries working in 11 different agencies.
Campus 2 is home to UNICEF Supply Division with 400 employees and is the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.
Our jobs and mandates are different - but we are joined in our commitment to helping deliver on the Sustainable Development Agenda.
Sustainability is a key principle for the building and the way we work and live in the building. The building is designed to consume half as much energy as a similar sized office building by for example using sea water to cool the air in our ventilation system and by using the shutters on the facade of the building to either trap or reflect the heat from the sun.
Moreover, the roof of UN City is white and made of recyclable, plant-based materials that reflect the sunlight and reduce the temperature inside the building. 1,400 solar panels on the roof cover about 10% of our annual electricity needs and the rest we get from renewable fractions like wind and biomass.
To be sure, by running the building in a sustainable fashion we try to walk the talk and continue to look for ways to further reduce our carbon footprint. I believe that you will have an opportunity for a guided tour of the building in the coming days.
Last time Denmark hosted one of the JPO Programme meetings was in 2005. So much has changed in our world since then.
We now live at a time of growing and compounding crises - from violent conflicts and a changing climate, to the lingering and evolving impact of the pandemic. All in the midst of a global cost of living and debt crisis.
We are meeting this week at a time when there are growing and increasingly complex crises.
Even before the recent middle east crisis, we were witnessing the highest number of violent conflicts since the Second World War. Poverty and inequality are on the rise. The Human Development Index has for the first time in 32 years been declining for two years in a row, and 9 in 10 countries experienced a decline in their Human Development Index score in either 2020 or 2021.
However, even if we live in times of uncertainty, we must not lose hope. Instead, we need to work harder towards the sustainable development goals, peace and development with a response which fits the context. The UN and multilateral system are more needed than ever.
The collaboration across the UN system and member states on the JPO Programme is one way of building future capacities for multilateralism.
The JPO Programme is for young professionals, however, as a programme it is senior – reaching +50 years of age. Since its inception in the mid-60s, it has continuously evolved to remain relevant and impactful. It started as a technical assistance programme and over the years it has evolved into a talent programme for multilateral cooperation and the UN System.
Over the years, we have seen an increasing number of countries joining the JPO Programme, and more countries sponsoring JPOs from other nationalities and the Global South. The JPO Programme contributes to making the UN workforce more diverse, and I hope this trend will continue in the years to come.
The JPO Programme has also incubated strong leaders for the UN system over the years and a great deal of current senior leaders started their career journey with the UN system as JPOs. For example, the UN Resident Coordinators in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Fiji, Chile, and Mexico are former JPOs, among many others!
The programme has also remained relevant and agile – and built strong partnerships among the UN organizations and member states to collaborate on attracting, selecting and nurturing talent for multilateralism and the UN system. The biennial meetings between UN organizations and national recruitment services enhance collaboration and joint efforts to harmonize approaches and contribute to the relevance as well as impact of the JPO Programme.
The meeting in the coming days will cover a range of interesting topics which seek to inspire further thinking and collaboration on the JPO Programme to ensure its relevance in the future.
I wish you successful and inspiring discussions in the coming days and hope that you will also have time to enjoy the spirit of the UN City and Copenhagen.