25 June 2010
Meetings Coverage
ECO/181

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Global Compact Leaders

Summit 2010

Plenary III (AM)


World’s Business Leaders, in New York Declaration, Vow to Strengthen Efforts

 

to Build Sustainable, Inclusive Economy, as Global Compact Summit Concludes

 


Say ‘The Need for Responsibility and Leadership Has Never Been Greater’;

Declaration Includes a ‘Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership’


As the third Global Compact Leader’s Summit concluded this afternoon, more than 1,200 corporate executives, Government ministers, civil society leaders and other participants vowed to step up their efforts to build a sustainable and inclusive global economy, at what they called a critical moment in history.


“The need for responsibility and leadership has never been greater,” participants avowed in the New York Declaration by Business they adopted at the end of the two-day meeting.  “Future advances in global integration, sustainable development, protection of our planet and, ultimately, peace critically depend on the ability to collectively address challenges,” they said.


The Global Compact, marking its tenth anniversary year, aims to encourage businesses to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation.  Bringing corporations together with United Nations agencies and civil society, the initiative stresses 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. 


By implementing those principles, according to the Compact, businesses, as primary drivers of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.


In today’s Declaration, participants committed themselves to deepen their work to advance the ten principles throughout their organizations, signing onto the “Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership” for the next ten years of the Compact, which was introduced at yesterday’s session and calls for higher levels of performance towards the principles and the wider objectives of the United Nations.


They called on more companies to commit to the Compact with the goal of reaching 20,000 participants by 2020, vowing to encourage their customers, suppliers and peers to join the initiative and committing to strengthen engagement through Global Compact Local Networks, the mobilization of subsidiaries, advocacy with Government and adherence to principles of responsible investment.


They also vowed to strengthen support for critical development goals, particularly the Millennium Development Goals, through their core business as well as through social investment and advocacy, individually and in partnerships with other stakeholders, notably civil society and Governments.


Prior to adopting the Declaration, a final plenary was held on increasing business action in support of the Millennium Development Goals.  Panellists gave examples from the experience of their company or organization, of joint private and public initiatives that addressed core development challenges.


The moderator of that plenary, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Special Advisor on the Millennium Development Goals for the Secretary-General, said that it was critical to allow the benefits of modern technology to reach the whole planet, pointing out that right now there were between one and two billion people who were living lives of extreme hardship.


Participants, he said, had it in their hands to end that suffering.  It was not something that one company, or even the entire business sector, could do by itself, but business was a crucial part of the effort.


In the afternoon, following a closed-door round table, a sustainability event was held in which Sha Zukang, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, invited all participants to the 2012 World Conference on Sustainable Development, informally known as Rio+20.


Lord Michael Hastings, KPMG International's Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity, then led the participants in an affirmation of the Declaration, through an oral pledge by participants of “Ten more years”.


Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact and Robert Orr, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning, thanked participants and closed the meeting.  Mr. Kell stressed that both the quantity of new members of the Compact and the quality of their work would be crucial in meeting the immense challenges of an inclusive and sustainable economy.


The full text of the New York Declaration by Business is available at www.unglobalcompact.org.


Background


The Global Compact Leaders Summit continued today at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City.  (See Press Release ECO/178)


Plenary III:  Achieving Development


The morning plenary, focused on how the private sector could contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, was moderated by Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General.


Panellists included:  Tommy Hilfiger, head of Tommy Hilfiger Corporation Foundation; Sarhad Haffar, General Manager of Emaar Syria; Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International; Anne Lauvergeon, Chief Executive Officer, AREVA; Paolo Scaroni, Chief Executive Officer of Eni; Zhou Zhongshu, President of China Minmetals Corporation; and Chief Emeka Wogu, Minister of Labour and Productivity of Nigeria.


Dr. SACHS said that, if the meeting resulted in a better understanding of how business could contribute to sustainable development, it would be extremely valuable.  The power of the businesses represented in the room could be transformative. 


The benefits of modern technology must reach the whole planet, he said.  Right now, there were between one and two billion people who were living lives of hardship that were hard to imagine.  Participants had it in their hands to end that suffering.  It was not something that one company, or even the business sector could do by itself, but business was a crucial part of the effort.


Neither could extreme poverty be ended through pure market forces, he said, because the poorest people were invisible to the market.  The Millennium Development Goals were put in place because it was agreed that extreme poverty was negative for the entire planet, a cruel anachronism and, if left to fester, caused conflict.


Investments to fight such poverty had to be long-term and taken on at scale, he stressed, saying that nice solutions that reached a million people and not billions do not solve the problem.  Knowledge and technologies over a sustained period of time must be brought to bear to end extreme poverty and disease.  The politicians do not have the means or the knowledge, so it could not be left to Governments.


The Millennium Development Goals, he said, were about hunger, children in school, children staying alive, mothers staying alive, ensuring access to clean water, sanitation, clean energy and communications.  He appealed to participants to suggest how their sectors could help, so that the meeting ended with “deliverables” that they could provide.  That concrete message should also address the political world and make demands for governmental action.


Mr. HILFIGER, relating his impressions on his visit to Africa, said he was both deeply concerned by the poverty he saw, but also inspired by the hard work and aspirations of the people in Millennium Villages, which were villages that had been selected to employ the best technology to improve conditions through working on all important sectors at the same time. 


His foundation was doing its part, he said, by providing direct funding, and was being cheered on in those efforts by Hilfiger employees worldwide.  With additional resources, the work could be multiplied.  He challenged participants to donate not just money, but only expertise to not only end poverty but also affect generations to come.


Mr. SCARONI said his energy company was international by nature, as well as local.  In Africa, it was taking advantage of what had been a problem — flaring — by utilizing gasses that would otherwise have to be burnt off.  That greatly increased the electricity available in many countries, while also increasing the percentage of local workers that were trained and employed.


Mr. ZHONGSHU said that his mining company had integrated mining into both the national and local economies of the countries in which it worked, while training local people, including indigenous residents.  He outlined some of the company’s efforts in biodiversity protection and community development, in the areas of animal husbandry and education.


Mr. HOBBS of Oxfam said that the Millennium Development Goals were around $22 billion short of crucial governmental funding, and businesses could press for the right kind of aid and otherwise get involved in the policy debate.  Businesses were also an essential part of the equation in empowering local people, including women.  Taxes on businesses could contribute to the provision of essential services.  He cited the example of HIV/AIDS services that required the partnership of both the public and private sectors.


Ms. LAUVERGEON said that AREVA had used all possible tools to promote gender equality in the countries in which it worked.  It had worked for equal pay and had created a network to promote women’s careers.  The percentage of women managers had consequently increased.  “Diversity is everyone’s business, as business needs everyone”, she said. 


Mr. HAFFAR said that his Syrian Global Compact network was growing rapidly and was able to encourage non-governmental organizations and other entities to participate in community, educational and environmental projects.


Mr. WOGU spoke of governmental efforts to create the right business environment both in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa, so that business could help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  He said that women’s participation in Government and the private sector had been promoted, and that the current Government was focused in particular on increasing access to electricity.  He spoke of partnership with energy companies in that area, as well as in creating more employment.


Following those presentations, the Plenary Leaders took the floor.  They were:  Ajit Gulabchand, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Construction Company Ltd.; Jean-Pascal Tricoire, President & Chief Executive Officer, Schneider Electric; Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Gustavo Pérez Berlanga, Executive Board Member, Cafeterias Toks S.A. de C.V.; and Yoshimasa Takao, Director and Senior Managing Executive Officer, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd.


Speaking first, Mr. GULACHAND said the world was in the midst of a crisis of both clean water and adequate sanitation.  Hundreds of millions of people on the planet had no access to either.  At the same time, businesses were just beginning to realize how dependent they were on the Earth’s most scarce resource:  water.  As part of a global response to this crisis, the United Nations had helped draft a CEO Water Mandate, which was a guide to responsible business engagement in water public policy.  He said that Hindustan Construction had been involved in the Mandate from the very beginning.  He was proud to have presented that Mandate to the Summit’s participants earlier this morning and he urged all to join it.


Mr. TRICOIRE said that social investment should be transparent and practical, and his company had based its actions in that context on the principles of the Compact.  Clean and “green” energy was vital, because without electricity there was no development.  Indeed, people who did not have electricity spent 20 per cent of their purchasing power to get access to light.


Electricity cut across many sectors — and many Millennium Development Goal targets, including education, and water and sanitation.  He said companies must bolster social investment.  They must work harder to show that business interaction was good for communities.  They must help create and sustain “community ecosystems”, he added, calling for innovative ideas to launch initiatives at the local level. 


On the telecommunications front, Mr. TOURÉ said information and communications technology were “special tools” that would help humanity achieve the Millennium Goals.  To that end, he asked the participants to imagine any development advances taking place in education, health, medicine, or even education, without such technologies.  At the same time, business and investment had a key role to play.  The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was working with business to create an environment that would ensure innovation that helped ensure development for all.


Giving the Latin American perspective, Mr. PÉREZ BERLANGA said more than 80 per cent of the companies in that region subscribing to the Global Compact’s principles had devoted much of their effort to promoting gender equality, environmental sustainability, and sustainable development.  There was a huge commitment in the Latin American and Caribbean region to promote the principles to ensure a better world for all.


The final plenary leader, Mr. TAKAO, said his company had made a major contribution to development in Africa through the development of a process that put insecticide into the resin for treated bed-nets used in the fight against malaria-carrying mosquitoes.  That innovation meant that some 100 million such bed-nets now did not have to be periodically re-treated.  Wrapping up, he urged the Summit’s participants, as well as Government officials, to continue to raise the issue of investment, which was so important to bolstering the research and technology needed to create innovative solutions to many of the world’s abiding development challenges.


Following the final closed-door round table discussion, on “Achieving Development”, the Summit held a brief “sustainability event” that featured presentations by Dennis Nally, Global Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers, who announced a global initiative to tackle climate change; and Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who informed participants of the General Assembly’s decision to convene, in 2012, a world conference on sustainable development in follow-up to the landmark “Earth Summit”, held in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992. 


Mr. SHA said that, while the upcoming conference, dubbed “Rio + 20,” would be held in the same city, it would not be a commemorative event.  Rather it would aim to renew the global commitment to Agenda 21 and the other important outcomes of that earlier meeting.  It would also aim to identify gaps and challenges in implementing those outcomes.  He invited all the Summit’s participants “to join us on our journey to Rio”.  Participation and guidance of the business sector was vital to the conference’s preparatory process, not only in the effort to generate partnership for sustainable development, but to tackle all facets of the broader sustainability challenge itself.


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For information media • not an official record