In his presentation, Clemens Adams, Director, Division of Administration at UNOG, gave an overview of the intent of the United Nations to renovate the Palais des Nations and explained that a Strategic Heritage Plan is being formulated. He focused of the renovation challenges and the planning in this context, emphasising on the need to do the renovations and the elaboration of possible ways that are being explored in order to meet member’s States’ expectations and to find means of financing including PPPs.
He also gave a quick historical outlook of the Palais; initially built for the League of Nations, now one of the most significant and busiest facilities that the United Nations operates that has more than 10,000 meetings attended every year, and about 128,000 delegates and visitors annually and provides a work place for some 4,000 staff members.
Considering that the League of Nations had 58 member states and the UN today has 193 member states, Clemens Adams stressed upon the difficulties faced in accommodating for major meetings and the urgent need that the premises are brought to current standards in order to ensure that adequate services are provided.
Among the issues that need to be resolved are: the outdated electricity installations, the dysfunctional water and sewer systems, the lack of adjustments to the needs of people with disabilities, the inefficiency of the space utilisations, the deficiencies of energetic operations of the Palais and the analogue technologies from the 70s.
He stressed the importance of maintaining business continuity during refurbishment, and the need continue providing the services to member States here in Geneva. First-hand experience of undertaking such works has been gained in the context of the Capital Master Plan in New York, and it is now expected to be applied in the context of a renovation concept.
A phased renovation has been envisaged, which lends itself because the buildings here are in a horizontal arrangement, thus it is possible to isolate building by building and renovate them in a sequence. The overall duration currently planned would be for 8 years and an estimated cost in range of 618 million Swiss francs. All costs and contingencies are included in the budget and they have been provided in a way that avoids cost overruns. According to Clemens Adams and based on the studies commissioned by the United Nations based on traditional procurement, the proposed solution is the cheapest way of conducting the renovations. However, he expressed his great interest in contrasting traditional procurement with the PPP option.