23 January 2014
Secretary-General
SG/SM/15607
ECO/236
ENV/DEV/1406

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

Secretary-General, at Global Compact Event in Switzerland, Urges Businesses


To Align Sustainability Principles with Corporate Policy

 


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the UN Global Compact LEAD Dinner, in Davos, Switzerland, 23 January:


I thank the Global Compact and the World Economic Forum for organizing this event.


The impacts of climate change are increasingly detrimental to our economic, social and environmental sustainability.  I am talking about an urgent existential threat.  Lives are at risk; businesses, small and large; economies; the security of nations.  The evidence is all around us.


We need to act — now, together.  The challenges of sustainable development are too complex for any one nation or institution to solve alone.  Solutions can only emerge when we combine the right players and supply the right resources.


That is why the United Nations is increasingly engaging business as a key partner.  The corporate world influences markets and government policy.  It provides the fertile ground where new ideas and technology take root.


Most businesses here have embraced the principles of sustainability.  Many of you participate in the Global Compact, and initiatives like LEAD and Caring for Climate.  If you have not yet joined the Global Compact, I encourage you to do so.  But, whatever your engagement in promoting sustainability, I urge you to do more — for the sake of your own bottom line and the future we share.


The United Nations is engaged in two complementary and interdependent processes that need the support of all actors.  Next year sees the end of the Millennium Development Goals.  We need to define a post-2015 development agenda for eradicating extreme poverty and protecting the planet’s resources.  Also by the end of 2015, we need to achieve an ambitious, meaningful climate agreement.


Everyone in this room has an essential role to play.  Many LEAD companies helped develop the Global Compact’s post-2015 report submitted to my office last year.  Caring for Climate participants have demonstrated a clear commitment to shape international climate policy — most recently at the Caring for Climate Business Forum in Warsaw.


Today, I appeal to each of you to become advocates for climate action and the post-2015 agenda and sustainable development.  Turn conversations into action on the ground, share your views with Governments and policymakers, and find new ways to collaborate with stakeholders in business and civil society.


I have four specific requests.  First, it is critical to align your sustainability principles with your corporate policy.  Practise what you preach.


Second, call on Governments to enact policies that support business to advance sustainable development.  There is no benefit to you if your competitors’ unsustainable practices are rewarded and your best practices are penalized.


Third, ensure that the goals of the trade associations you join are consistent with your sustainability objectives.  Let us make sustainability the most powerful lobby.


Finally, become advocates for an effective, well-functioning carbon market.  This is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable development.  We must place a true value on the cost of carbon to our economies and our future.  I urge you to work with Governments on this issue.


On September twenty-third this year, the day before the opening of the General Assembly, I will host a Climate Summit.   The Summit will bring together global leaders from government, business, finance, and civil society.


It has two goals.  To catalyse ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience, and to mobilize political will for an ambitious global legal climate agreement by 2015.


It will be a different kind of Summit — an action Summit.  We want to see new commitments and action that are substantial, scalable and replicable.  To meet the full scale of the global climate challenge, we need to seize the opportunities at hand and build on existing processes and initiatives to foster action in areas that go far to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience.


Action areas for the Summit include energy; short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon; cities and transportation; land use, adaptation and disaster risk reduction.  It will also address climate finance and the economic drivers that cut across these and other climate-related sectors.


I urge you to engage in the action discussions during the climate day here in Davos tomorrow.  I need you to be my champions for crafting deliverables for the Summit.  We want your contributions in these action areas, as they are crucial to help shift the world towards a low-carbon economy.


We need business to move from bystanders to builders.  Bring your ideas and solutions to the Climate Summit.  Accept my challenge to take the helm as we launch the world on a journey to a sustainable future — a future of opportunity for all.


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For information media • not an official record