Good morning, everyone! Welcome to the United States Mission to the United Nations. And for those who traveled from out of town, welcome to New York City. My name is Cherith Norman Chalet, and I am the United States Ambassador for UN Management and Reform.
By way of background, the U.S. Mission serves the vital role of representing the United States at the United Nations. We represent the United States’ political, economic, social, legal, military, public diplomacy, and management interests here. One important aspect of the UN Management and Reform Section’s mandate is to ensure that U.S. companies have opportunities to do business with the UN. We do that through education and networking like today’s event, all in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and with our colleagues at the UN.
As you all know, the UN does important work around the world. The organization tackles nearly every global challenge from feeding starving children, to ensuring sustainable political transitions, to sanctioning those who violate international law. It oversees 14 peacekeeping missions deployed in locations such as Haiti, South Sudan, and Lebanon performing roles ranging from ceasefire monitoring to protection of civilians.
In order to execute its humanitarian, peacekeeping and development operations, the UN procures over $18 billion each year in goods and services across diverse sectors – air transportation, architecture and engineering, freight forwarding, IT, food, energy, logistics, healthcare, finance, and more. We are proud to say that United States companies are the top supplier overall, procuring $1.7 billion across the board last year. But there is room for growth in specific sectors, and especially in the air transport sector.
Over the last few years, we have worked with the UN to adopt reforms in the air transport sector to change the solicitation methodology in a way that makes the process more competitive and transparent for all companies. However, we know that this has remained a challenging sector for American companies. This is why we are gathered today alongside the UN senior officials who oversee this area and can speak directly to its needs, challenges, and opportunities.
We want to make every dollar the United Nations spends count. And that’s where U.S. companies like yours can potentially offer effective, efficient and innovation solutions to the UN. I am pleased with the turnout today, with representation from over 15 states. I am confident that this will be a productive forum for all of you. Throughout the day, we encourage you all to engage actively, ask questions and network among yourselves and with UN officials. You have a packed agenda with a free-flowing networking opportunity at the end of the day.
Lastly, I want to thank our co-hosts at the Department of Commerce – James Cox, Carmela Mamas and Peter Sexton – for working with us on this important initiative. I also want to thank our UN colleagues from the UN Procurement Division, the Department of Field Support, and the World Food Program who have traveled from Rome, for partnering with us, and for all the work you do to counsel companies as they navigate UN opportunities.