New Delhi, India, 5 February 2009 - Secretary-General's remarks to the breakfast meeting of Chief Executive OfficersThank you very much, Dr. Pachauri, Mr. De Boer, and distinguished business leaders.
It is a great pleasure to meet you again. Namaste Ji. Last time when I was here, I think during October, I had an opportunity of having this kind of dialogue with the business community leaders. I met some of you and some of you are due to meet today. This is a great opportunity for me to begin this sustainable development summit with meeting business community leaders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here with all of you who can help usher in the future of India.
I think we are meeting at a critical time and particularly India is on the threshold. As I understand you are the pioneers of Indian Economic Dev and I count on you to become again a pioneer in leading this climate change issues. You can choose to go through the old cycles of industrialization with all of the benefits and costs that it will bring. Or you can – in many important instances – chose to invest in new, emerging technologies in the fields of energy and the environment.
This is the challenge facing the business community in India: whether to shape this trend now or try to catch up later.
India has so much talent. You have technological know-how and an entrepreneurial spirit. You can take calculated risks towards a greener world.
The large and diverse market here can respond to all kinds of inventive approaches. In one sense, you have options for how to go forward. But in a deeper sense, we all have no choice but to protect environment. India can show the way.
In the long-run, India's green technology can do more than protect the environment here – it can be a potential source of revenue as you export know-how and products to other developing countries.
It will take leadership, imagination and a commitment to new ideas.
Already India has shown ingenuity and dedication. Industrialists here have moved forward on new energy technologies. I would encourage you to intensify this work and engage even more with other international efforts in this field.
We know that India has what it takes to lead on new technologies.
If I may recall what you have done back in 1994, India's telecommunications system was overwhelmed by demand. The country, you faced the choice at that time: whether to look back, and patch up the old system, or look forward with a brand-new technology.
You all know that India took the bold approach of looking ahead. A state-of-the-art communications network has brought your citizens closer to each other, from countryside to city, between families and across borders.
In just a few crucial years, India became a master of the information age. Now we are on the brink of the new era of green economics. It is time for another bold step. I hope you will lead this campaign, to lead the government. No worry in every country, it is the government, bureacrats who always take very conservative positions and it has always been a business community which has led this campaign. Even in my country South Korea, the business community has always [been] standing in the lead.
Continued investment in green technologies would bring you to a new frontier with possible synergies with your space and computer sectors.
I have called this the year of climate change. There was no such formal decision by the General Assembly but as Secretary-General, the top priority agenda for me and the United Nations this year is climate change. That is why I have just designated this year as the year of Climate Change. Negotiators will be meeting in Copenhagen December this year. We had a good meeting in Posnan in December last year where we agreed to operationalize this adaptation fund and agreed on work programme this year. We need the business community to encourage the Government to work for an agreed outcome at the Copenhagen conference.
Industrialized countries bear a great deal of responsibility for the state of the planet today. And they must bear their share of the burden when it comes to paying for solutions. But at the same time, countries which did not contribute as much to global warming still have a responsibility to address it. I don't think this is the time for finger pointing to each other. We have a common responsibility but on a differentiated responsibility.
We meet amid the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression. The price tag for facing that crisis is already high. But those numbers pale next to the financial costs and profound human consequences of delaying actions on climate change.
The New Green Deal, as I have called it, again this is my designation like New Green Deal, has the potential to create millions of jobs, not just in decades to come but here and now.
An ambitious agreement in Copenhagen is essential, including for businesses. A policy framework with the right incentives for a low-carbon future would provide the signal that industry needs.
The business community has a critical, catalytic role to play in this process. Already, more and more companies around the world are realizing that green is not an option but an imperative for recharging their bottom lines.
We need your ideas and your investments. We need your innovation and we need your “can-do" spirit.
We also need your help in promoting sustainable forestry and land use management, which cuts emissions, drives down rural poverty and preserves biodiversity.
As an international community, we also need to do much more to adapt to the effects of climate change. Climate-related disasters are already affecting millions of people, especially in the developing world, including here in India.
We need you to use your influence to press governments to do their part for a deal in Copenhagen. Together, we can create a greener, more equitable and prosperous world for all.
I am counting on more than your support; I am counting on your leadership.
I know you will rise to the challenge, for your companies, your country, your citizens and the world.
Given your size, the changes you bring to a new India will go a long way in creating new energy and environmental futures.
Statements on 5 February 2009