Closing Plenary of International Business Forum

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for the invitation to speak in this closing plenary to the International Business Forum on Financing for Development.

As the Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, I would like to express my appreciation to the Financing for Development Business Steering Committee for organising today’s meeting focusing on effectively mobilizing private finance for sustainable development.

The agenda and discussions today have been rich in substance and ideas. The diverse array of participants drawn to this meeting from both private and public sectors, and from the North and the South, has been truly impressive.

As has been reiterated many times, the financing needs for sustainable development are enormous, and public finance on its own will not be sufficient to meet these needs. Different estimates of these needs all confirm that there are large requirements across all critical sectors. There is an urgent necessity to attract long term private investment into critical areas such as infrastructure, education, agriculture and the financing of micro and smaller enterprises.

The draft Addis Ababa Action Agenda calls on all businesses to apply their creativity and innovation toward solving sustainable development challenges. It urges businesses to embrace a core business model that takes account of the environmental, social and governance impacts of their activities. It invites you to engage as partners in the development process.

The draft Action Agenda recognizes the important role of government policies and the enabling environment in ensuring private investment. We should acknowledge important steps taken in this area since Monterrey. However, much more needs to be done. The draft Action Agenda calls on countries to continue to strengthen and build transparent, stable and predictable investment climates.

But the draft outcome document goes beyond Monterrey. It incorporates the importance of incentives for the private sector to invest in sustainable development, and particularly in resilient infrastructure that is environmentally friendly and caters to the needs of all segments of the population. It promotes mechanisms to promote risk-sharing between the public and private sectors, in a fair and transparent manner. It also stresses that legal and regulatory reforms must also take into account the broader social and environmental goals of regulation, including the need to ensure adequate social protection for workers, and safe surroundings for employees and local communities.

Businesses continue to make important and direct contributions to development – for example, ensuring that local communities benefit from major development projects, building national business coalitions for education, supporting micro-finance schemes, setting standards for best business practices and so on. The challenge is to strengthen and scale up these activities, which is an issue that is at the heart of today’s session on market innovation.

Efforts also need to be made to strengthen financial inclusion and widen the sources of enterprise finance, particularly in developing countries, including through more effectively tapping institutions such as national development banks, cooperative banks and savings banks, which may be well suited to offer financial services to SMEs. It is fitting that the International Business Forum has devoted an entire session to the issue of supporting SMEs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The business sector has a crucial role to play in ensuring sustainable development, achievement of the SDGs, and of the very survival of our planet. Sustainable development across its economic, social and environmental pillars would serve to benefit our children and future generations.

I urge you to take on responsibility and leadership for ensuring a sustainable world and protection of our environment. Indeed, it makes business sense to do so. The risks of environmental degradation, social inequalities, and economic and financial volatility affect all of us. The structure of modern capital markets can sometimes put pressure on companies to focus on near term results. But I urge you all to incorporate medium and longer term risks into your planning. It is encouraging to note that these concerns were discussed in today’s meeting, including in the sessions on reporting on performance and sustainable business practices.

The agenda of the International Business Forum has covered all the issues that I have outlined and many other key concerns relating to the mobilization of private finance for sustainable development. In all of these areas it is necessary to have sustained engagement between the public and private sectors. It is most encouraging to observe that the participants in today’s sessions have included a diverse set of business representatives as well as senior figures from international organizations, governments and think tanks.

Your engagement here should be seen as the beginning of an important conversation between private and public actors on strengthening our partnership to advance sustainable development and ensure the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. It is necessary to follow-through on the ideas, initiatives and collaborations that have been put forward today.

Let us aim high and ensure that 2015 is remembered as the year when the international community – including each and every one of us - defined its common interest and took the necessary measures required to safeguard it. Today’s forum is the first step in ensuring our common goals are realized. I urge you to build on the current spirit of cooperation and continue to work with us in the follow-up process to this Conference. I look forward to a continued dialogue and a true partnership to ensure implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda through its follow-up process.

Thank you.

File date: 
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Mr. Wu