29 March 2010

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

Corporate Responsibility Must Become Cornerstone of Ethically Robust Markets,


Says Secretary-General at Global Compact Ambassadorial Event


(Delayed in transmission)

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s welcome remarks at the United Nations Global Compact Ambassadorial Lunch, in New York, 25 March:

Ten years ago, the United Nations launched the Global Compact.  It was designed to be a small, experimental initiative to advance universal values and engage business to support United Nations goals.

In 2000, just over 40 companies came to United Nations headquarters to make a formal commitment to advancing sustainability principles in their operations and within their communities.

In 10 short years, that initiative has grown to become the largest corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative in the world -- with 8,000 corporate participants and stakeholders from over 130 countries.

I thank ambassadors here today for supporting the Global Compact and for giving it both political and financial support.

Over the years, the Global Compact has grown to become a critical platform for the United Nations to engage effectively with enlightened global businesses.  The initiative has proven to be an important instrument to galvanize support from the private sector to advance the goals of the United Nations.

The need for responsibility and leadership has never been greater.  As the world is working to restore trust and confidence in markets, we must heed the lessons of the recent financial crisis.  First, business, civil society and Governments will be increasingly called upon to build markets that provide better access for the poor.  Second, a shift from short-term profit maximization to long-term sustainable value creation is necessary.  Corporate responsibility must become the cornerstone of ethically robust markets.  There is a strong case that addressing critical issues, such as poverty and climate change, can simultaneously spur growth and tackle long-term challenges.

This year we will bring the private and public sectors together at the Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010.  This will take place here in New York on 24‑25 June.  The Summit will provide a substantive platform to take stock of collective challenges and create momentum to scale up promising solutions.  I count on high-level leaders from Government and business to attend the Summit.  

At the Summit there will also be a strong emphasis on the Millennium Development Goals, which is a major priority this year. 

We have an enormous opportunity to make progress on critical issues by continuing to align the private sector with United Nations goals.   

Thank you for doing your part to advance this effort.

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For information media • not an official record