UN RC Opening Speech on the occasion of United Nations Day 2021
26 October 2021
Opening remarks by Francoise Jacob, UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia on the occasion of UN Day 2021
Dobro dosli, Bonjour,
Monsieur le ministre des affaires étrangères, Nikola Selakovic, Madame la representante du secretaire general Mari Yamashita, Excellencies, Colleagues, and Friends,
On behalf of the UN country team, I am privileged to welcome you here. This is such a wonderful space, it embodies the future I hope for, with lots of clear light, beautiful natural surroundings, and a great diversity of people. Thank you for coming, for being the friends of the United Nations, thank you for being the United Nations. We have heard many times that Covid pulled people apart, but I feel that the events of the past year and a half actually brought many of us closer, in a commitment to tackle the pandemic, and with a renewed awareness of the urgency to address long term challenges to sustainable development and peace.
I would like to share a few thoughts on the future, 3 topics that are of importance for the UN, globally and in Serbia.
First, as we move forward towards 2030, and in Serbia’s EU accession context, the UN has a very specific role to play. We see our principal duty as ensuring that the development agenda, the transformative agenda, is as inclusive and fair as possible, and that truly, no one is left behind in the massive efforts that will take place in the country to transform the society, the economy and the environment we live in. Inclusion, tolerance, embracing diversity and plurality within our societies remain at the core of the United Nations action. These values are the fundamental pillars to strengthen peace, trust and social cohesion. As the UN, we will continue to put the rights of the people at the core of our actions, and we invite for greater and meaningful national and local consultations with citizens to shape the country’s future.
Second, this gathering takes place just a few days ahead of COP26. Tonight, I am calling for more ambitious and faster actions from all of us to address this triple crisis of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Some of us in this room have been working on CC and environment for 20 years. Most of us would like to do more, and so do the citizens out there. I, my colleagues, the whole UN system, are committed to embrace the Green Transformation as a great opportunity to reshape our future. It is exciting, it is the best engine and a great narrative to plan and build forward better. Serbia, with 7 million people, has the perfect size to trailblaze the transformation, and this will be a formidable incentive for the youth. So, it is time to send that “unmistakable signal” with concrete policy plans and tangible outcomes, to communities and people, raising awareness, knowledge and commitment to action, from all corners of the society. In the past few weeks, we have talked about lot about energy, but we must equally focus on sustainable transport, food systems and water management, construction sector, jobs, education and new skills, and more.
This commitment starts with each of us individuals. So, my call to you tonight, is also to act in your own capacity, and make the fight against climate change your fight, your top priority, as a citizen, as a consumer, as a professional. The impact of our actions, or the lack of, will be felt on peace and security, on prosperity, on happiness, on health, for us and future generations. We don’t want a perpetual crisis.
3. My last point is about renewed cooperation. Honest, intelligent, and effective cooperation. In Serbia, we have many actors, institutions, NGOs, financers, private sector, much expertise, knowledge and capacities. I believe the sum of our efforts, the impact of our work will be even greater when we make full use of new ways of working together, including in the spirit of the UN reform. This is about governance, about delivering better public goods, but it goes beyond formal, institutional coordination and cooperation. It is about trust, transparency, curiosity, new mindsets, and a vision to create more results to which we contribute jointly. We should augment our shared values, cultivate dialogs every day, good compromises, negotiated solutions, and the integrity and safety of public information and discourse. It also means Hope rather cynicism and hate.
You will find a lot more about these few reflections in Our Common Agenda, recently issued by the UN Secretary General. Many ideas are being discussed right now between Member states, around 90 propositions. The SG has also proposed a Summit of the Future to forge a new global consensus on what our future should look like. So, stay tune!
4.Finally, I want to thank all my colleagues from the UN country team, many are in this room tonight. Together, they represent such a wealth of knowledge, expertise and commitment, and it is truly a privilege to work with you.
I wish everyone here tonight a wonderful evening, and of course, stay healthy and happy!