Trudeau an­nounces $6.2-bil­lion re­lo­ca­tion of United Na­tions head­quar­ters to Toronto

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIO­NAL -

As a mid­dle power, Canada no longer wants to sit on the side­lines, and Toronto’s place as the “cen­tre of the uni­verse” could have a whole new mean­ing.

In an un­prece­dented show of sup­port for re­newed in­ter­na­tion­al­ism and mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism — re­ject­ing the ris­ing global tide of uni­lat­er­al­ism and pro­tec­tion­ism — Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau an­nounced this morn­ing Canada has sub­mit­ted a for­mal pro­posal to the United Na­tions (UN) to have its head­quar­ters moved from New York City to a new se­cure, state-of-the-art cam­pus dubbed the ‘Global Vil­lage’ on a Lake On­tario wa­ter­front site on the Port­lands, just east of down­town Toronto.

This will ef­fec­tively turn Toronto into the world’s cap­i­tal city. The fed­eral govern­ment will fund the con­struc­tion of the $6.2-bil­lion head­quar­ters cam­pus at no cost to the UN, as well as cover an­nual op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance costs of the com­plex.

“Canada has be­gun the process of sig­nalling a new era for the United Na­tions by pro­vid­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion with

a new fully-funded cen­tral head­quar­ters near down­town Toronto,” Trudeau said in a re­lease.

“Our govern­ment is promis­ing open­ness and new Cana­dian lead­er­ship on mat­ters that re­late to all Cana­di­ans and con­trib­utes to our coun­try’s stand­ing in the world. We be­lieve in the col­lec­tive goal of cre­at­ing a world that is bet­ter and safer, and more sus­tain­able, pros­per­ous, and just. Canada’s re­solve for sup­port­ing and en­forc­ing the prin­ci­ples of the United Na­tions has never been greater.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, if the UN moves to Toronto, the Cana­dian fed­eral govern­ment will sign an agree­ment to pro­vide the UN’s reg­u­lar bud­get with a sig­nif­i­cant boost in an­nual fund­ing that is 30 times larger than Canada’s most re­cent an­nual con­tri­bu­tion of $76.23 mil­lion in 2019.

Trudeau will pro­vide the UN with $2.8 bil­lion an­nu­ally, start­ing on the year the UN fi­nal­izes the agree­ment to move the 193-mem­ber in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion’s head­quar­ters to Canada’s largest city.

Nor­mally, mem­ber states con­trib­ute an amount that is based on the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­ity to pay, with a for­mula that takes into ac­count gross na­tional in­come, debt, and per capita in­come. This plan pro­posed by Canada re­quires ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion amongst the mem­ber na­tions, UN staff, and a vote in the Gen­eral Assem­bly. A for­mal an­nounce­ment on the de­tails of the plan will be made at the ex­ist­ing UN head­quar­ters in New York City later to­day.

A me­dia back­grounder in­di­cates a 60-acre wa­ter­front in­dus­trial par­cel on the south­west cor­ner of the Port­lands will be re­de­vel­oped into a 4.5 mil­lion sq. ft. head­quar­ters for over 16,000 em­ploy­ees with the UN Com­mu­nity that are cur­rently work­ing at the East River com­plex in NYC.

These em­ploy­ees work for the UN’s spe­cial­ized agen­cies, pro­grammes, funds, af­fil­i­ates, and mis­sions. A num­ber of green de­sign fea­tures—such as a district util­ity sys­tem, rain­wa­ter cap­ture sys­tem for ir­ri­ga­tion and to flush toi­lets, su­pe­rior in­su­la­tion, and pas­sive heat­ing and cool­ing—will earn the cam­pus a LEED Plat­inum en­vi­ron­men­tal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The po­ten­tial ex­ists to in­te­grate some of the head­quar­ters’ utilities and in­fra­struc­ture with Google’s Side­walk Labs, which could po­ten­tially ex­pand be­yond the Quay­side district and in­clude a large por­tion of the Port­lands to bor­der the UN head­quar­ters.

The Cana­dian govern­ment as­sumes the UN will re­tain own­er­ship of its 1952-built, Rock­e­feller-funded, 18-acre NYC head­quar­ters, which re­cently com­pleted a $2-bil­lion ren­o­va­tion. The UN could re­tain a small por­tion of its orig­i­nal head­quar­ters of­fice space af­ter the move to Canada, and lease out the build­ing’s re­main­ing spa­ces to non-profit and non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions or even cor­po­ra­tions, pro­vid­ing the UN with a ma­jor new source of rev­enue to help sup­port its pro­grams.

The en­tire head­quar­ters site in Toronto will be fenced off, de­clared an in­ter­na­tional ter­ri­tory that will no longer be­long to Canada, and ex­empt from prop­erty taxes.Am­ple plaza and green spa­ces be­tween the cam­pus build­ings and the perime­ter will pro­vide a spa­cious se­cu­rity buf­fer.

How­ever, there will be a ma­jor pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble com­po­nent on the pe­riph­ery of the head­quar­ters site on the north­east cor­ner, where a 180,000-sq-ft, state-of-theart UN his­tory mu­seum and ed­u­ca­tional cen­tre—named the Kofi An­nan United Na­tions Mu­seum—will be built. This will also be the stag­ing area for reg­u­lar guided tours of the cam­pus.

Pre­lim­i­nary con­cep­tual artis­tic ren­der­ing of the new United Na­tions head­quar­ters in the Port­lands of Toronto. Not the fi­nal de­sign. (Govern­ment of Canada).

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