– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

15 June 2020

 

 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank the UN Global Compact for convening this conversation at a time we are experiencing an unprecedented global humanitarian and economic shock as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is undoubtedly hard times for many around the world, and they look at leaders in government, international organizations, businesses and civil society for solution.

It is inspiring to see that in reaction to the challenges posed by the pandemic, businesses around the world have stepped up to protect their workers, suppliers and communities. These businesses have set admirable standards by, among other things, extending health benefits and paid leave to their workers, while also supporting community relief efforts for the most vulnerable.  

It is commendable that Governments around the world have also provided economic stimulus packages of historic proportions, to support companies and communities across numerous industries during this crisis. It is important to continue to take the bold actions that are required to effectively address the impact of the pandemic on workers and companies around the world.

Excellencies,

Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, it is clear that we will recover, as we are resilient people. However, we can recover better by using this opportunity to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future. Businesses are key to achieving this. Accordingly, I call on business leaders to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals and the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into their core business strategies and operations.

Indeed, we should also utilize this opportunity to accelerate the transition from a grey to a green economy. This transition is the right thing to do for people and for planet. It also represents a multi-trillion-dollar business opportunity.

As we begin the Decade of Action and Delivery to implement the SDGs, I urge all governments to refocus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and utilize their national SDG implementation plans as a roadmap for recovery. Also, policy responses must be inclusive and targeted at making the lives of the most vulnerable groups, particular women, youth, the elderly, persons living with disabilities and other minorities better.

When Kofi Annan established the UN Global Compact twenty years ago, he presented business leaders in Davos with a choice. A choice “between a world which condemns a quarter of the human race to starvation and squalor and one which offers everyone at least a chance of prosperity, in a healthy environment.” Thus far, those of us here today seem to have chosen well. However, there is more to do.

In achieving our aim of ensuring “a chance of prosperity, in a healthy environment” for everyone, we must deepen international cooperation and continuously bring together critical stakeholders to discuss. This is an opportunity that the UN Global Compact offers us today by organizing this Leaders’ Summit.

I encourage all participants in this Summit to engage in discussions over the next two days with renewed ambition and vigor. Let these conversations be the beginning of innovative public-private collaboration and partnerships. We look to you to mobilize the large-scale, cross-sectoral action needed to overcome this global crisis.

Despite the disruptions caused by COVID-19, it is clear that we will recover, as we are resilient people. However, we can recover better by using this opportunity to build a more inclusive, sustainable and resilient future. Businesses are key to achieving this.

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly

Excellencies,

Hard times should bring humanity closer and remind us of our collective power to overcome the toughest crises through solidarity, trust and partnership. The world witnessed this 75 years ago when leaders convened to sign the UN Charter and create the United Nations. We must continue to stand in solidarity with one another.

By striving together, we can tackle global poverty, inequality and climate change – and create a better world for all.

I thank you.