Madam Nazek Hariri, also representing the Prime Minister of Lebanon, His Excellency Saad Hariri,
Your Excellency Ertugrul Gunay, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, also representing the Prime Minister of Turkey, His Excellency Recep Erdogan,
Distinguished Colleagues and Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honour to be here today to celebrate the first Rafik Hariri Memorial Award that was yesterday presented to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Recep Erdogan. It is also my pleasure to inaugurate the Rafik Hariri Memorial Lecture Series.
In 2004 at the World Urban Forum in Barcelona, UN-HABITAT recognized Mr. Hariri when it conferred upon him the United Nations highest human settlements award, the UN-HABITAT Scroll of Honour.
Today, six years later, we continue to remember a great visionary, leader, innovator, and statesman through the Rafik Hariri Memorial Award and Lecture Series. We seek to honour and emulate Mr. Hariri's spirit by carrying forward his work.
We are particularly pleased that it is during the 5th Session of our World Urban Forum focused on “The Right to the City: Bridging the Urban Divide”, that Mr Hariri’s life and work are celebrated through this award. His efforts recognised the need for balanced housing, infrastructure, and socio-economic development, empowerment of youth, women and the poor. UN-HABITAT espouses the same values, and promotes inclusive cities for all.
Through the continued commitment of Mrs Nazek Hariri, Mr Saad Hariri, and the international community, the world can continue to benefit from the vision and work of Mr. Hariri.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
The late Mr Hariri was awarded the Scroll of Honor for his achievements in reconstruction. It is indeed a sad co-incidence that this inauguration takes place just weeks after the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. These are natural disasters beyond our human control that we seek to respond to as an international community.
Even more tragic are human-made disasters including environmental destruction, conflict and war that negatively impact on lives around the globe. As we inaugurate this award, we call for solidarity with the people of Haiti and Chile; and many others, as they embark on the road of rebuilding their homes and their lives.
This inaugural award is given to His Excellency Recep Erdogan for leadership, statesmanship, and good governance. This is a fitting tribute to Rafik Hariri who invested in building peace and good governance as pre-enabling conditions for sustainable development.
It is my earnest hope that through the Rafik Hariri Memorial Award and Lecture Series, the spirit behind his vision, his message, and his work, will remain alive.