25 February 2008


25 February 2008
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s address to the Economic and Social Council special event on philanthropy, in New York, 25 February:

On behalf of the United Nations, I am pleased to welcome you to the Economic and Social Council special event on philanthropy.

I am delighted to see all of you here today -- ambassadors, CEOs, colleagues from international organizations and heads of foundations -- to discuss the potential of aligning our work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Enhanced cooperation between the different actors represented here today, especially through a better understanding of corporate giving strategies, would add great value to the overall development effort.  We have learned, especially in the United Nations work on enhancing coherence, that sharing of experiences, best practices and lessons in the work of disparate actors is the first step in improving impact at the country level.

I commend Ambassador [Léo] Mérorès, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships for their leadership in organizing this event, together with the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP).

Solidarity among nations -- and development assistance as one of its major expressions -- has been a factor in global development at least since the middle of last century.  In recent years, we have observed the emergence and rapid growth of corporate and individual giving.  The United Nations welcomes this trend as a wonderful embodiment of the universal human values of justice, fairness, compassion and equality.  We see philanthropy’s immense potential to help people as they strive for a better life with dignity and hope.

Today, we meet under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.  The Council is working with all stakeholders, helping them to exchange information, raise visibility and awareness of their work, facilitate synergies and promote coherence of actions.  We would be interested to hear from you whether you think the corporate philanthropic community may find it useful to engage more with the Council.

Today’s event is designed to further improve the dialogue between the United Nations and the corporate philanthropic community on how progress towards common goals can be accelerated through cooperation and partnership.  Smart philanthropy has a significant potential to enhance investment in public goods, including through management expertise, product donations, infrastructure and more.  These efforts coincide with the greater global interest to address major development challenges and needs by enhancing the impact of cross-sector collaboration.

This meeting can provide valuable input to the Council’s first Development Cooperation Forum, which will be held here in New York in July.  The Forum aims to bring together the broad range of stakeholders to discuss key issues and trends of development cooperation and foster greater coherence in efforts towards internationally agreed development goals.  The rise in global giving by the philanthropic community is one important new trend.  We need to better understand it and help direct its benefits effectively and efficiently.

Your deliberations will also be very important for the Annual Ministerial Review of progress towards development goals.  This year’s Review will focus on commitments in the area of sustainable development.  Many of the objectives of international philanthropy are coalescing around this agenda, notably the Millennium Development Goals.  This shows the special focus that you are placing on the eradication of poverty and its multifaceted dimensions -- disease, lack of adequate shelter, exclusion -- while also promoting gender equality, education, public health and sustainable development.

I understand that many of you are members of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy and have come here directly from a National Corporate Philanthropy Day award ceremony.  I would like to congratulate this year’s awardees: The PNC Financial Services Group, Moody’s Corporation and Community Voicemail, for their outstanding contributions to very important causes.

The Committee brings together an impressive group of business leaders who think about philanthropy as part of their business model.  The vision of Paul Newman for creating CECP and the leadership provided by the Chairman, Terry McGraw, and the Executive Director, Charles Moore, has been instrumental in elevating the profile of the issues that the Committee addresses.  In our globalizing world, we need people like you who think outside the box and seek to advance the transition to a more equitable sharing of globalization gains.

In just one powerful example, back in 2005, CECP and several CEOs were instrumental in leading the South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund, at a time of unprecedented need for disaster relief efforts internationally, raising $116 million in a short period of time.

The United Nations system has been partnering with the private sector and civil society in a variety of ways for over 60 years now.  The growth in the number of such actors, the globalization of business and the information and communications technology revolution, and the surge of corporate social responsibility efforts has led to new opportunities across the public and private sectors, and to the redefining of the traditional roles and expectations of Governments, business and civil society.

The United Nations has been making a real effort in recent years to open its doors to more partners and more innovative partnerships.  We are committed to working together to make a difference.  Every United Nations agency, fund and programme is rethinking the way we work in light of this effort.

It is, therefore, important for United Nations Member States and corporate partners alike to continue to develop initiatives that address the new opportunities and challenges.  It is our chance to enter into a new age of partnerships for truly sustainable development.

This will be vital to tackle climate change, one of the United Nations -- and the world’s -- top priorities.  Many of you have a leading role to play in this, not only as corporate philanthropists, but also as senior managers of large corporations whose decisions crucially affect consumption and production patterns.  These trends lie at the heart of the challenge of mitigating and adapting to climate change.  As the Secretary-General has stressed, while climate change is a grave threat to all humankind, it is also our “opportunity to advance sustainable development; encourage new kinds of cleaner technologies, industries and jobs; and integrate climate change risks into national policies and practices”.

We will not succeed without cooperation between Member States and the world’s leading private sector representatives.  And leadership from Member States, corporate leaders and the United Nations in achieving development goals is crucial.  We invite you to become actively engaged in the work of the Economic and Social Council to increase the coherence and overall impact of development cooperation.

My colleagues in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Office for Partnerships stand ready to assist and we look forward to working together for a better world.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.