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Kandeh Yumkella receives highest Austrian honour

July 31, 2015 

Former UNIDO Director-General Dr. Kandeh Yumkella was the special guest at the Marmoorsaal – the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – at a ceremony where he was conferred with the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for his outstanding services to the Republic of Austria.

Also known as the Order of Merit of the Austrian Republic, the prestigious presidential award is one of the highest Austrian honours given to both Austrians and leading foreign leaders for their exemplary work to the Austrian people.

The Sierra Leonean-born Yumkella received his high honour with a certificate signed by Dr. Heinz Fisher, President of the Republic of Austria and a congratulatory letter signed by Sebastian Kurz, Austria’s Foreign Minister.

During the glittering ceremony, attended by international and national dignitaries including members of the Vienna-based United Nations Diplomatic Corp, Dr. Wolfgang Waldner noted that Austria “has so many reasons to be grateful” to Dr. Yumkella for his admirable qualities as a leader and the stellar results he delivered  as a two-term former Director-General of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) from 2005 to 2013, and as former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the initiative on Sustainable Energy for All – SE4All (2013-2015).

“In your ten years as head of international organizations based in Vienna you have done much to strengthen Vienna’s reputation as an international meeting place and energy hub. We cannot let you leave without expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the work you have accomplished in Vienna,” underscored Dr. Waldner.

In his response, Dr. Yumkella – who has resigned his UN position to return home and compete for his country’s highest office, the presidency – noted that Austria and colleagues present have taught him a lot and will remain forever grateful for the wonderful relationship he has maintained over the years. He narrated a story of his visits with President Fisher to the top of the mountains.

“President Fisher took me up the mountains so I could dream,” he said. “I know I can count on Austria’s continued friendship as I return home to go help lead my people so that together we can transform our nation of 6 million people. It is not an easy journey but I believe my people deserve the best as well. I will use all the lessons and skills that Austria and all of you have taught me here.”

Yumkella joins a select group of distinguished Africans including former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan of Ghana and former IAEA Director-General, Mohamed Elbaradei of Egypt to have been honoured. Notable Austrians include Roman Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schonborn, Alois Mock, former Vice-Chancellor of Austria and Kurt Waldheim, former President of Austria and former UN Secretary-General.

Dr. Yumkella is a recipient of numerous international awards, including:

  • 2014 Nayudamma Award for outstanding contributions to the energy sector
  • Commander of the National Order of Cote d’Ivoire (June 25, 2013)
  • 2013 AAI Distinguished Alumni Award (conferred in New York in September, 2013)
  • 2013 Energy Efficiency Visionary Award (ASE-EE Global Forum) for his steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and his work to advance the next generation of energy efficiency through the pillars of investment, education and modernization.
  • 2012 South-South and Triangular Cooperation Visionary Award (United Nations of South-South Cooperation)
  • 2012 United Nations Association (UNA-USA) Global Leadership Award for the leadership he has provided to strengthen the United Nations
  • Award of “Honorary Professor” by the Mongolian University of Science and Technology, Ulan Bator, Mongolia (April 2012)
  • Wissam Award for service and son of Africa (March 30, 2011)
  • Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa), Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria  in recognition of his contribution to global industrial development and poverty alleviation in the world, (March 2012)
  • Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from the Njala University, Njala,  Sierra Leone in March 2011
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) from TERI University, New Delhi, India in October 2010 in recognition of his achievements and his contribution to society
  • Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) at the 150th Year Special Convocation and Valedictory Function, September 2008, University of Madras, India
  • 2008 Champion of Youth Award at the 4th World Youth Congress, August 2008, in Quebec City, Canada
  • Madhuri and Jagdish N. Sheth International Alumni Award for Exceptional Achievement, April 2008, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
  • Presented by Prince Albert of Monaco the award of the “Prix De la Fondation” of the Crans Montana Forum for his global leadership and work in development, June 2006, Monaco
  • Honorary Distinguished Visiting Professor by the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade, March 2006, China

Full statement of Dr. Wolfgang Waldner


Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a particular pleasure for me to welcome you here today in the Marble Hall of the Austrian Foreign Ministry on a very special occasion. The Austrian Federal President has awarded one of the highest decorations of the Republic of Austria to Dr. Yumkella.

I will have the privilege to present it to him in a few minutes. Before we proceed to this more formal part of our get-together, let me say a few words why I consider the timing of our ceremony very fortunate.

Dr. Yumkella will leave Vienna very soon and return to his home country Sierra Leone where he will be running for the presidential office. We cannot let him go without expressing our gratitude and appreciation for the work he has accomplished in Vienna in his previous functions as Director General of UNIDO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General and CEO of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).

As you know, only a couple days ago Vienna was confirmed as the seat of Sustainable Energy for All. This decision of the Executive Committee also confirms Dr. Yumkella’s choice of Vienna as the city best suited for hosting the Initiative of the UN-Secretary General. We are, naturally, very happy about this decision and will continue to provide the future Sustainable Energy for All Partnership with all the support we can give.

You may remember that the seeds for the Initiative were sown during the first edition of the Vienna Forum in 2009. Like this year’s fourth edition, the forum was organized back then by the Austrian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with UNIDO.

It was Kandeh Yumkella, in his then function as Director General of UNIDO, who first formulated the three goals of the Initiative:

* ensuring universal access to modern forms of energy,

* doubling the global growth rate of energy efficiency and

* doubling the share of renewable energy in the worldwide energy mix.

It was him and a few others like our partners from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) who were the first to see the need for giving energy the role which had been missing in the millennium development goals – the role as a driving force for development. Due to his background and ample experience Kandeh Yumkella was acutely aware of the fact that without energy there is no development.

Today, energy figures as goal No. 7 on the list of Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted by the UN Summit this September. This is no mean achievement and it is an achievement that we mainly owe to Kandeh Yumkella. Let me take you back to the “birthplace” of SE4All, the first edition of the Vienna Energy Forum.

Dr. Yumkella was not content with the role as an initiator, he also did his utmost to spread the good news and build up global awareness of the importance of the issue. In doing so, he employed all the infectious enthusiasm, the eloquence and considerable charm for which he is so well known.

First, and most importantly, the Secretary General of the United Nations saw the merits of the case Kandeh Yumkella made and launched SE4All as his personal Initiative together with the President of the World Bank.

In his new function as Special Representative of the Secretary General and CEO of SE4All Kandeh Yumkella faced the task of mobilizing global support for the Initiative and catalysing action from governments, business, academia and civil society to make the project fly.

Austria firmly believes in the future of the Initiative.

SE4All is in the process of acquiring a long-term institutional identity and is set to take over new tasks connected with the implementation of sustainable energy as Sustainable Development Goal No. 7. As such, it will build on the strong basis that was laid by the unwavering commitment and inexhaustible energy of its first Secretary General and CEO.

Excellency, Austria has many reasons to be grateful to you. In your ten years as head of International Organizations based in Vienna you have contributed to strengthen Vienna’s reputation as an international meeting place and energy hub.

Let me therefore thank you for the good cooperation you have always shared with the Austrian Foreign Ministry during your time in Vienna. We are happy that we could work with you on a wide range of common projects and we wish you much success and personal fulfilment in all the projects that you will be taking up in the future.

I now have the honour to present you with the insignia of the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Sash for services to the Republic of Austria together with a certification signed by President Heinz Fischer and a letter of congratulation from Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz.

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  1. Mohamed Sannoh investigates:

    The discovery of the Ebola virus comes at the right time and great welcome with deep appreciation to the scientists who have made this breakthrough in their discoveries. The benefits are for the world even when not West Africans.

    Some are still left with the doubts, misunderstandings and
    confusions as to how Ebola came to the Mano River Union (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia) in the first place, when the virus has already been discovered in DRCongo and it has be kept under seal in a flask at the University of London Laboratory for scientific research purposes ever since. In 1996, Professor Peter Piot , Director of
    the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered Ebola virus at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium. The virus was locked in a flask from a Belgian doctor in an African country called Zaire, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRCongo). Now my curiosity is that the scientific research which comes up with breakthrough of this Ebola vaccination is greeted with some questions the scientists and the political heads in the
    Mano River Union presidents of West Africa must answer: Has the breakthrough come about as the storage of the Ebola virus in the university of London laboratory for scientific research and has
    West Africa been chosen for research to discover the effects of the virus on human beings? Did the virus escape from the University of London laboratory and engage into attacking humans in West Africa? Perhaps Professor Peter Piot will have answers to this question. Now that the breakthrough has come, is the vaccination going to be made free for all West Africans who are still suffering from this Ebola outbreak? The scientists who have made the breakthrough should have answers to this question. Readers must understand that “Sierra Leone possesses significant natural wealth – yet 80% of its people live in extreme poverty. Life expectancy is among the worlds lowest at 48 years, and Ebola has only put greater pressure on an already buckling health system. The crisis has left many unable to access healthcare in a country where malaria and HIV/AIDS threaten
    thousands. The economy has suffered too, with travel restrictions
    leaving many impoverished workers unable to get to work. Where lies the future? Another curiosity is directed to the African heads of state President Koroma of Sierra Leone, President Conde of Guinea and President Sirleaf of Liberia to clear the doubts and educate their respective nations properly as to whether they were in the know of the
    scientific experiments of Ebola in their countries without alerting their
    cabinets? We demand answers from the three presidents of the
    Mano River Union countries to this questions urgently.

  2. salone!!!? what its spitefully shamefully hopeless human-ape men controlling the day to day running of a country, salone go thru all ape-like civil servants running the country are mostly unqualified 100% to hold the office they hold. all they know is to thief, mismanage and grossly destroy the institution their ape Pshit have given them. salone is curse salone is curse her folks live worse than animals while their ape captain is intoxicate with their folly on the steering. an ice-berg is waiting for their ship.

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