United Nations at 70: "Strong UN. Better World"

Oct 23, 2015

By: Ola Almgren, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative

The Honorable Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario, esteemed members of the Cabinet, our friends from the Diplomatic Corps of the Philippines, my colleagues from the United Nations, ladies and gentlemen – good evening!

Thank you for joining us here tonight, to mark and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Before I go on with my message, I would like to take a quick moment as our thoughts go to those who have suffered the effects of Typhoon Lando, battering northern Luzon earlier this week.  We congratulate the government on the measures it took to mitigate, to the greatest extent possible, damage as the typhoon made landfall.  We were impressed by the resolute response that was immediately launched at the national and local levels.  We at the United Nations, while hoping there is no need, stand ready to step up our support should there nevertheless be requirements that we can help address in the immediate or longer term.

Now, some say when you turn seventy you have a right, perhaps, to feel a little bit tired as you look back and reflect on the many achievements and the many memories that have accumulated over the years.  While it is true that there have been many achievements and there are many memories – perhaps some happier than others - over the seventy years of the United Nations, there is no sense of feeling tired.  The opposite is true!

2015 is a momentous year for the United Nations! Amongst others, the development agenda for the coming 15 years has just been agreed on by Member States in the shape of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

There are other commitments by Member States in 2015 such as those made in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction in March; at the third international conference on financing for development in August; and, we are expecting a universal climate agreement from Member States at the upcoming climate change conference in Paris, France in December. 

These and other deliberations by the Secretary-General and Member States during 2015, for example in the review of United Nations peace operations, set the course for the coming years.  If anything, they raise the bar of expectations!  They are a great call to all of us, the component parts that make up the United Nations: its 193 Member States; its Secretariat; its Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies; and, not the least, those of us who proudly serve the organization as its staff.

Looking back for a moment, throughout seven decades, the United Nations has made countless and enduring achievements that have made a difference in the lives of millions and millions of people: seeking the peaceful resolution of disputes; being a constant advocate for human rights and the rule of law; supporting development; and responding to humanitarian crises.

The Philippines has been a committed partner in all of these achievements. As one of 50 original signatory countries to the United Nations Charter - in San Francisco on 26 June 70 years ago - the Philippines holds a special and a proud place in the history of the United Nations. 

Together we are guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Together we have achieved much.  We have borne witness to many milestones in the work of the Organization,in the upliftment of the poor, in the upholding of human rights and fundamental freedoms, through the participation in peacekeeping operations, and in the quest for a life in dignity for everyone.

And we will go on to achieve more, not the least as we work towards the attainment of the Goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda over the coming 15 years.

These Global Goals are an agreed vision to put people and planet on a sustainable path by 2030. In the words of our Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the Global Goals represent a “universal, transformative and integrated agenda that heralds a historic turning point for our world.”

In a very simple message, these global goals aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and take action against climate change.

They aim to improve living conditions in the present while safeguarding the resources of our planet for future generations.


The Global Goals are far more than inspirations or words of good intent.  They provide a guide for action in the key areas where countries will have to invest in order to move forward.  Implementation will be led by countries and its success will rely on countries’ own systems and programmes, and their ability to harness local and global partnerships.  The Global Goals are a compass for aligning national development objectives with global commitments. 

The United Nations look forward to doing our part to help accelerate the process. We will continue our partnership with national governments and civil society and connect our experience and expertise across the many global practices that come together in the United Nations system present here in the Philippines.

There are interesting times ahead of us.  And there is a golden opportunity to make the Global Goals part of our everyday discourse.  To ensure that the positive developments and gains that have been made over the past 15 years in the work towards the Millennium Development Goals, are now carried forward and expanded to all of the 17 Goals of the new Agenda 2030.  From ending poverty in goal number one across to ensuring peace, justice and strong institutions in goal number sixteen, and building the partnerships required to achieve this in goal number seventeen.

As we mark the 70 years of the United Nations, our anniversary theme of ‘Strong UN - Better World’ emphasizes that we all need to work together to make positive transformations for a more just and equitable society.  For those of us who are representing the United Nations system here in the Philippines, we commit to working with you in making the world a better place today and for future generations of Filipinos.

In closing, I would like to thank WFP National Ambassador Against Hunger, KC Concepcion, UNICEF Celebrity Advocate Anne Curtis and El Gamma Penumbra for giving us their time and commitment not only for tonight’s celebration but also to the broader work of the United Nations. I also take the opportunity to acknowledge SM and to thank their Senior Vice President for Marketing Ms. Millie Dizon, for making this venue available and for contributing to the arrangements of tonight’s event.  And last but certainly not the least, I thank Secretary Del Rosario and the Department of Foreign Affairs for hosting this event together with us.  I trust it will be a beautiful celebration of the United Nations and the partnership we relish with the Philippines.

Thank you very much.  Mabuhay, United Nations! Mabuhay Philippines!

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