Press Releases

    SG/SM/9208
                                                                                                                            22 March 2004

    Secretary-General Thanks Winners of “UN 21” Awards for Helping Renew, Strengthen Organization

    NEW YORK, 19 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks on the occasion of the UN 21 Awards in New York, 19 March:

    Dear colleagues, let me tell you how happy I am to join you at this UN 21 award ceremony and to be able to meet the winners.

    I am delighted to be here.  Since 1996, the UN 21 awards have been among the happiest and most optimistic events on the United Nations calendar. This year is no exception.

    The awards exist to encourage and support the creativity of staff in achieving more effective, and cost-effective, ways of doing work at the United Nations.

    And we have indeed seen some innovative ideas flourish under this programme -- both in use of information technology and in streamlining administrative processes.

    At the same time, the UN 21 programme itself has evolved.  I am particularly pleased that the nomination process was opened up two years ago to allow staff members to nominate their own initiatives, as well as those of colleagues.

    As a result, the response has multiplied eightfold during these last two cycles.  This year, there were more than 30 project nominations from the field and from offices away from Headquarters -- and two projects from the field will receive their UN 21 awards at their mission.

    I am particularly glad today that we are honouring individuals who have helped improve productivity and develop more effective programmes in the crucial area of knowledge management.

    After all, one of the most important assets of our Organization is its store of knowledge and information.  We lose the benefit of that if we are not able to manage and retrieve that knowledge, and learn lessons from it.

    Another new and crucial category this year is that of initiatives to improve the working environment and morale of staff.

    Let us always remember that our staff is our most precious commodity.  It goes without saying that improving conditions for staff yields tremendous benefits for the Organization as a whole.

    So, winners of this year’s UN 21 awards:  thank you for rising to the challenge of helping to renew and strengthen our Organization.  Thank you for sharing your skills and talents with the entire global secretariat, so that others can learn and benefit from your ideas.  And congratulations on winning these awards -- you richly deserve them.

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