Press Releases

    26 October 2005

    Secretary-General, in Message to Bonn Ceremony, Pays Tribute to Remarkable Intellect, Energy, Passion of Joke Waller-Hunter

    NEW YORK, 25 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's message to the ceremony honouring the life and work of Joke Waller-Hunter, held today in Bonn, as delivered by Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme:

    We have all been terribly saddened by the death of our friend and colleague Joke Waller-Hunter.

    Joke led the climate change Secretariat at a crucial time.  She oversaw the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, and played a leading role in preparations for its implementation.  This work will continue, of course.  That is our duty and our commitment.  But it will be that much harder without Joke's remarkable intellect, energy and passion.

    Joke was a firm believer in sustainable development and environmental protection.  She also knew that global cooperation was essential to advancing that cause.  With incomparable command of the issues, and an unerring sense of the political minefields, she made a wide range of important contributions over the course of a distinguished career of national and international public service.

    Joke set a demanding pace for her staff.  She was almost always first in the office, and usually the last to leave.  No matter how many options for action staff had come up with, Joke was able to see several more.  And yet, far from dispiriting her staff, this inspired them to do even better.  Joke saw the good in people; she nurtured their talents and skills; she created an environment in which everyone could shine, be heard and otherwise do their best.  One of her staff said that Joke was so encouraging to her personal growth that she felt she had wings.  That is high praise indeed.

    Yet Joke herself was so low-key in manner.  She was one of those quietly effective, fiercely principled servants of the international community.  She was admired from Bonn to Paris, from New York to Rio, indeed throughout the world.  And she will be mourned with deep affection and respect by many friends and allies.  I offer my sincere condolences to her family and colleagues, and to all others touched by this loss.

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