Secretary-General Says Failure to Address Risks, to Look at Long-Term Impact of Our Actions Will Lead to Recurrent Global Financial Crisis

6 July 2009

Secretary-General Says Failure to Address Risks, to Look at Long-Term Impact of Our Actions Will Lead to Recurrent Global Financial Crisis

6 July 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





(Delayed in transmission.)

Following is the text of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at a breakfast meeting with Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and the Global Compact Japan Network, in Tokyo, on 1 July:

Ohayo gozaimasu, doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

I am very glad to meet you again.  I was here last year and some of you are familiar to me, but I am also glad to meet new friends, new colleagues.  Thank you very much.

I am very grateful that Chairman Sakurai and Chairman Arima, representing the business community of Japan, are committed to the major global objectives of the international community, where Japanese economic, business communities are fully involved.  Thank you very much for your leadership.  I look forward to hearing from you all how you have been and how you are going to [work with] the United Nations in addressing many urgent issues, like climate change, the global economic crisis and food security.  As you may be fully aware, we are living in the era of multiple crises.

I know that Keizai Doyukai is a very important organization.  You have been not only making a contribution to economic development and progress, but also addressing many other important issues.  I am very pleased to know that the Global Compact Japan Network has been making great strides with 90 [members from the] business community.

I would like to highly commend the role of the Japanese business community in this new era of responsible and sustainable business.

Now in this time of economic crisis, people are losing their trust in businesses, markets and even political leadership.  The only way to recover confidence and trust is to unite in addressing this global crisis through a global partnership and global response.

One of the most important and urgent issues is climate change.  We must seal the deal in Copenhagen in December this year.  Japan has a political and historical responsibility to take an active leadership role in this regard.

It will be a moment of truth in Copenhagen, whether we will set ourselves on course for disaster by taking a “business as usual” attitude, or find the path of sustainable green growth.  We know the answer that we must take is the course of sustainable green growth by reaching a global agreement in Copenhagen on climate change.

Businesses have played a very important role in this regard.  Government, business and civil society:  these tripartite partnerships should work together.  You are on the front line in terms of innovative technology development.  You have financing, you have experience, you have almost global networks through your businesses and, therefore, your contribution will be extremely and crucially important.

I am glad that now most of the business leaders realize that this is not just the right thing to do, but this is the smart thing to enhance your competitiveness to make your whole business more profitable and prosperous.

The United Nations Global Compact initiative has made enormous strides worldwide, with several thousand companies now embracing its principles.  They are protecting the environment, respecting human rights, fighting corruption and working for a better world.

But we must do more ‑‑ much more, today.

The global financial crisis has shaken all of society and the whole spectrum of our lives.  On a deeper level, we need to understand what led us to this crisis and what kind of lessons we can learn from it.

The crisis has made it plainly clear that we need common principles.  Otherwise, markets will fail.  If we do not address risks, if we focus only on short-term goals, if we fail to look at the long-term impact of our actions, we will face disaster.  We will see this kind of crisis again and again and again.

Now here again, climate change offers a prime example.  We must look for a low-carbon economy.  This is the way for our future.  There, I count on your leadership and strong commitment.  Those who take action today will be more globally competitive, and will benefit for decades to come.  I have been saying that the cost of inaction will be far greater than the cost of action.

I am glad that all the members of Keizai Doyukai and the Global Compact Japan Network realize all these principles.  You have a great vision.  When you invest in green technologies or make your operations more energy-efficient, you show that what is good for the environment is also good for the bottom line in your company.

I hope you will join United Nations initiatives such as “Caring for Climate” and the “CEO Water Mandate”.  As Secretary-General, I am doing my best to mobilize all possible political capacity to raise political awareness among leaders.  The aim is to “Seal the Deal” in Copenhagen this year.  I am going to convene a summit meeting focused on climate change on September 22nd in New York at the United Nations.

The Japanese Government has announced its midterm target just a couple of weeks ago and I appreciate that this represents its domestic efforts.  It seems, [however,] that this does not represent all the off-sets by which you can contribute through financial support, as well as technological support.  I hope with this financial and technological support, your actual contribution in cutting greenhouse gas emissions will be increased in the very near future.

Industrialized countries should lead by example, and so should global companies like yours.

As you are very successful business leaders, I hope that you become statesmen so that you can talk to your political leaders, your congressmen or your ministers to press them to honour their word.  You can also talk to your subsidiary companies so that they can participate in this common network.  All political leaders, business leaders or leaders of your subsidiary organizations should come together to work with the United Nations.  That is what I would like to ask of you today.

You can fulfil your responsibilities, not only as business leaders, but also as parents or grandparents so that you can hand over this planet to your children, your grandchildren and your great grandchildren, who will have a safer, more sustainable and hospitable world to live in.  That is our common responsibility.

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