Record numbers of visitors came to chat at the UNRISD stand at the UN Open Day held on 24 October to celebrate the United Nations' 70th birthday at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Friendly and informed UNRISD staff were on hand to explain to people from the Geneva community and from further afield what the Institute does and what impacts its research has. Latest figures put the total number of visitors to the Palais at 19,000.
New UNRISD Director Paul Ladd said, "I was really pleased to see UNRISD take its place alongside many of the other UN and international organizations in Geneva in such an accessible space and a nice, friendly atmosphere. It was a fantastic opportunity for local people and the international community to get together and learn more about each other."
As well as passing by the UNRISD stand, Paul Ladd attended the official inauguration of a new sculpture in the UN grounds, specially commissioned for the UN's 70th anniversary. The ceremony was presided over by the Director General of the United Nations at Geneva, Michael Møller, and the artist responsible for the piece, Michelangelo Pistoletto.
Apart from stands run by UN entities, there was also a wide-ranging cultural programme from ballet, Thai drums and line dancing to film-screenings and art exhibitions. Many of the Permanent Missions of Member States to the UN highlighted their own cultures, distributing food and other goodies. The free guided tours of the Palais des Nations turned out to be very popular.
Out in the grounds, visitors could inspect various tents used by UNHCR to host refugees and UNITAR demonstrated how drones are used to get images of hard-to-reach places. CERN offered visitors the chance to experience a simulation of the Large Hadron Collider, and a children's corner and sports field were available to keep younger visitors amused.