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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 21 June 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks at United Nations Global Compact Board Meeting

Distinguished Global Compact Board Members,

Good morning, and welcome to this year's first board meeting.

Let me begin by extending a warm welcome to our new members: Mr. Carrier, Ms. De Greiff, Mr. Fu Chengyu, Mr. Hägglund, Mr. Jennings, Mr. Li Decheng, Ms. Marton-Lefèvre and Mr. Sane.

I greatly appreciate your commitment.

One year ago at the Global Compact Leaders Summit, more than 1,000 chief executives and civil society leaders convened to set the future direction of the Global Compact.

They reached consensus that the Compact must work towards two goals: increasing the number of participants and deepening the quality of their engagement.

Achieving these goals will require the support and guidance of this Board.

First, on the issue of growing the Compact's membership.

It is important that the principles of the Global Compact are accepted by more businesses around the world.

I have set a goal of reaching 20,000 companies by 2020. Today, we have 6,000 companies in 135 countries.

But this is just a fraction of the estimated 70,000 multinationals and millions of small businesses.

Reaching a critical mass will be essential if we are to help retool markets and economies towards sustainability.

Developing the right strategy for the Global Compact to grow will not be easy, and I am pleased that today the Board will begin discussions on this important matter.

There are important sectors and geographical areas where more engagement is needed.

Second: on the quality of that engagement.

While it is important for more businesses to join the initiative, the Compact can only make a real contribution if these companies embrace and advocate its principles.

To date, we have removed more than 2,400 companies from the Compact for failing to report to their stakeholders on progress they have made.

Of those that are active, we know that most are still at the beginner to intermediate level.

Our challenge is to get the entire membership to do better.

We need to bring more companies from the lower rungs of sustainability to more advanced practices.

This will not be easy. Today's issues are highly complex and interconnected – specifically in areas such as energy, food and water.

This can be a difficult landscape for business to navigate.

That is why we have developed the Global Compact Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership.

Now we need to bring the Blueprint to life and to create more specialized guidance for smaller and less advanced companies.

This Board will play a critical role in the quest to balance quantity and quality, integrity and growth.

Looking ahead, we must ensure that corporate sustainability has a [high] profile at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June next year

The Global Compact will undertake major initiatives at Rio, including through a Private Sector Track to bring the voice of business to the intergovernmental debate.

I will look to you to help mobilize a coordinated and powerful contribution by business, in particular in delivering viable solutions that can help alleviate poverty, create jobs and accelerate the transition to a green economy.

Now I would like to hear from you on the work you have under way or are planning.

Thank you again for your commitment.

The floor is open.


Statements on 21 June 2011