28 January 2011

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

Global Compact LEAD Initiative Can Steer Level of Sustainability Performance

World Needs Today from Business, Says Secretary-General at Launch of Scheme


Following is the text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the launch of the Global Compact LEAD Initiative, today, 28 January, in Davos, Switzerland:

I am delighted to be with you today to launch the Global Compact LEAD initiative.  Congratulations on joining LEAD!  You are part of something big.  The right issues, the right people, the right companies.  The potential for real leadership in this area is immense.

This is an exclusive group of companies at the leading edge — those that are proactive and strategic in how they address environmental, social and governance issues.  Not enough companies engage in such thinking.  But when companies like yours drive sustainability issues deeper into your operations and strategy, year after year, you send a powerful signal.  Indeed, you change the world.

In this century, far more than the last, we need business to achieve our fundamental purposes at the United Nations.  This is why LEAD and the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability are so important.  By working together at the strategic level as well as in concrete partnerships, we can leverage our respective strengths to address some of the toughest problems of our time.

You have your interests, we have ours.  But overlap is much greater than traditionally recognized.  Through Global Compact LEAD, you can help guide the way to the level of sustainability performance our world requires from business today.  Through our Global Compact Local Networks, in particular, you can jump-start business action and awareness on the ground.  I expect these networks to be a fundamental and indispensable factor in mobilizing and scaling up sustainability solutions.

You can also work through the United Nations system itself, which has unparalleled reach across this entire globe.  I can assure you that there is great desire across our agencies to find more effective ways to collaborate with business.  You have many experiences to share and we are ready to listen.  We want to take collective action to a new level.

Global Compact LEAD also forges links with investors and educators through our Principles for Responsible Investment and Principles for Responsible Management Education initiatives.  I have every expectation that your best practices on environmental, social and governance issues will inspire investors and clients to place higher valuations on your companies — thereby motivating other companies to embrace the sustainability agenda.

Global Compact LEAD is an exciting development.  At the United Nations, we will do our best to support your efforts, but we all recognize that much of the hard work ahead is in your hands.  Thank you for your commitment.  I look forward to hearing more about what your companies plan to do to get this initiative off to a fast start.  Thank you very much.

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For information media • not an official record