Secretary-General's remarks at the Hong Kong-U.S. Business Council Dialogue
New York, 12 June 2013
Thank you for this opportunity. It is good to see all of you. This is a particularly important and exciting time to be coming together.
I often say that the world is in the midst of a great transition.
This transition is political, as people around the world are increasingly demanding a greater say in shaping their own destiny.
It is developmental, as we seek a more sustainable path.
And, of course, it is economic, as new powers emerge. Today’s engines of growth are largely in the developing world. We see the ever-rising significance of Asia and in particular the economies of Northeast Asia.
I was in Japan earlier this month and met with Prime Minister Abe. I also recently met with President Park Guen-hye of the Republic of Korea.
Next week, I travel to China to meet with the new leadership.
Asia’s economies and societies are transforming literally before our eyes. As business leaders well-versed in the region, you know this well.
But something else is also very visible: the leadership and governments of these countries are playing ever larger roles in advancing global development and the global good.
I went to Japan for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development – TICAD V—where the Japanese government pledged more than $30 billion over the next half decade for Africa. They see opportunity in Africa, and so do I.
Last year, I attended a similar event in China – the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.
All of this is critical. The sharp rise, for example, in China’s presence in Africa presents an enormous opportunity for growth on the continent, building on the remarkable gains Africa is already making.
I am convinced that governments alone cannot tackle global development challenges. Partnerships with the private sector are crucial to achieving sustainable development.
The United Nations has been reaching out to the private sector as never before. We want to enlist business in promoting growth – and in doing so for the common good.
US and Chinese companies can and must ensure that business activity is sustainable and responsible – that it upholds the highest standards of business ethics.
I am convinced that principles and profits can go hand-in-hand. Business success requires delivering long-term value – not just financially, but also socially, environmentally and ethically.
These are the principles embodied in the United Nations Global Compact.
For over a decade, we have worked to embed principles and values into markets around the world.
I am pleased that hundreds of US and Chinese companies have committed to the Global Compact principles. I urge them – and others – to ensure that they uphold responsible practices in their strategies, in their supply chains, and in the communities where they operate. Their presence can make a tremendous difference.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are also at an important moment in framing the global development agenda for the coming generations.
The UN has begun a process of crafting a development framework after we reach the agreed deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the end of the year 2015.
If we are to mobilize the resources, technology and innovation required to finish the job and achieve global sustainability, the contributions of the private sector will be vital.
As we work together to advance sustainable development, we must simultaneously reduce the threat posed by climate change. This is clearly one of the greatest perils of our time.
There should be no more denial, no more deferring action, no more avoiding the tough decisions, no more hoping that a technological silver bullet will save us.
Today, our challenge remains clear and urgent: cut greenhouse gas emissions; increase efficiency, rely more on clean energy and provide sustainable energy for all; and reach a global legal climate agreement by 2015.
The recent US-China agreement to gradually reduce the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is a step in the right direction.
I encourage companies in the US and China to actively engage in our Caring for Climate initiative for business, through which hundreds of companies are putting forward innovations, for example on energy efficiency, renewable energy, adaptation and finance.
Investors are already busy opening new markets, facilitating new business models and supporting energy entrepreneurs in the developing world, where demand is greatest.
I urge you to use your collective influence to help widen the growing alliance for sustainable change.
Next year, I will convene a high-level meeting of government, business and civil society leaders in New York.
The goal is to catalyze action in key areas, including public and private climate finance and to accelerate political momentum for a universal, legally-binding climate agreement by 2015.
The private sector will have a central role to play in unlocking clean energy investments.
I am engaging with business leaders representing different sources of capital, including banks and utilities, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and insurers.
We must advance concrete options for public-private partnerships to achieve the scale of financing required for tackling climate change – and I look forward to working with all of you and many others to help make this happen.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The United Nations continues to play a vital role across the world -- from peacekeeping to vaccinating children … from sheltering refugees to defending democracy and human rights.
We are taking new approaches, strengthening the Organization from within, and reaching out to new partners – including the business community.
On all these challenges and more, let us work together to build the future we want.
Statements on 12 June 2013