Patrick Haverman: Speech at Lang Lang's Birthday Event

Jun 13, 2014

By Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director of UNDP China

Music and education open our minds and allow hope to soar. As the UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on global education, Lang Lang energetically advances public awareness on education issues.

UN peace messengers have diverse claims to fame, as they represent the top talent in their fields, whether they are writers, sports heroes, actors – or world-renowned pianists. For example the late Luciano Pavarotti stands as a decade-long UN messenger of peace and a world renowned opera singer. Mr. Pavarotti was strongly committed to helping children in war-torn countries, generating funds and attention for humanitarian aid.

Another example is Stevie Wonder, who supported the end of apartheid in South Africa and subsequently supported charities working to empower people with disabilities. Through the power of music like Pavarotti and Wonder, Lang Lang on behalf of UNICEF has been advocating for the needs of children for a decade.

With his new appointment as UN Messenger of Peace by the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, he will continue to assist the UN in realizing our mandates in the coming years. His focus is global education, a critical driver of child development and human progress. On behalf of the United Nations, I express pride, confidence, and gratitude towards his commitment and perseverance. 

The UN in China has a long history, built on 35 years of trusted friendship and close cooperation. Together, we’ve been working towards poverty reduction, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, empowering women, and improving the lives of children. In fact, China’s contribution to halving extreme poverty by 2015 has been the single most important factor in achieving this global Millennium Development Goal ahead of time.

Despite progress, there is still a lot of work to be done: a climate agreement to reach; livelihoods to rebuild and improve; millions of children to place into classrooms, among others. The UN messengers like Lang Lang can help put the world’s key challenges on the forefront and bring people together to contribute to these causes. Music is a powerful tool to put hope into the homes and hearts of many.   

The UN has also been working with music, to name one example, in Venezuela, the UN provided music education for impoverished youth by donating music instruments, teaching classes, and performing music. This is an ongoing effort that helps youth arm themselves with instruments, rather than guns. This is the power of music and its contribution in changing a society.

In China, we look forward to working with Lang Lang in setting up a similar programme for music, education, culture, and development, aimed at harnessing the power of music to give those less privileged, a better chance in education and a greater hope for life.

Thank you Lang Lang for your commitment and we look forward to working with you to create something great together.