Queen Margrethe of Denmark, UN Secretary-General visit WHO emergency operations centre

United Nations/Eskinder Debebe

WHO staff brief the dignitaries visiting the WHO emergency operations centre in Copenhagen

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the WHO emergency operations centre (EOC) in Copenhagen yesterday. They were accompanied by other dignitaries who participated in the official opening of UN City. 

The dignitaries were briefed about the EOC, which functions as part of a global system for health-security monitoring and response. It operates within the International Health Regulations (IHR), a legally binding framework that defines the obligations of all 196 States Parties and the role of WHO. 

WHO/Europe uses the EOC constantly to monitor all types of public health hazards and events in the Region (disease outbreaks, chemical and nuclear incidents, natural disasters and other humanitarian crises, etc.) and to coordinate responses and crisis communications. Its facilities allow communication at any time with IHR States Parties, other WHO offices and key partners.

Official opening of UN City

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon officially opened UN City during their visit. The building, developed by the Danish Government, brings together under 1 roof the 8 UN organizations hosted in the country. 

At the ceremony, the Secretary-General thanked the people and Government of Denmark for their generous investment and support. “Bringing so many United Nations organizations together in one location allows for shared logistics, administration, networking and collegiality – enhancing cooperation and ability to ‘Deliver as One’,” he said.

He said that the work carried out by the UN agencies in Copenhagen “makes a real difference to the lives of the poor and vulnerable”, and Denmark should be “rightly proud” of its contribution.

The ceremony marked the official handing over of UN City by the Government of Denmark to the UN organizations based in Copenhagen. WHO was the first such organization to establish an office in Denmark, when the WHO Regional Office for Europe opened in Copenhagen in 1957. Her Majesty was presented with a photo of her opening WHO’s former offices 41 years ago. 

Ms Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Prime Minister of Denmark; Mr Villy Søvndal, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Mr Christian Friis Bach, Minister for Development Cooperation; and Mr Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, also attended the opening.

A green building

UN City was designed and built, and operates, according to stringent sustainability principles and with minimal environmental impact. The building is ventilated with filtered outside air; solar panels on the roof generate renewable energy on site; and seawater is used for cooling, and rainwater for toilets.

The Secretary-General noted that UN City is an example of how modern, energy-efficient offices can help build a sustainable future. “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. Estimated energy consumption will be cut by more than half,” he said.

UN family in Denmark

Joining WHO in UN City are the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) and the World Food Programme (WFP).