Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Japanese Global Compact Local Network, in Tokyo today:
I am delighted to be with you today. This is now the fifth time we have met. I greatly appreciate your dedication to advancing the Global Compact’s principles. Promoting sustainable and equitable business is central to our goals of creating a better world for all.
Earlier this week, I was at the third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. The Japanese Local Network has close understanding of this important topic. When the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck in March 2011, you were able to quickly reach out to the global business community through the Global Compact to support relief efforts. This is very much in the Global Compact spirit of shared responsibility for a better world.
On that note, let me speak briefly about one of my top priorities — women’s empowerment and gender equality. Last week, I spoke at [a] Global Compact event on this subject. I said then that achieving gender equality will require the concerted efforts of all actors — including and especially business.
Looking around today, I see mostly men. This picture will have to change. That is why the Global Compact is now asking companies to include gender equality criteria in their annual corporate sustainability reporting. Removing the barriers that keep women and girls on the margins of economic, social, cultural and political life must be a top priority for us all.
The full participation of both genders is the only way we can ensure that we have the best solutions, that no one is left behind, and that, together, we can build the future that we collectively want. I urge you to take this message to heart in your homes and in your businesses. Dear friends, I know I can count on you to embrace the principles of women’s empowerment, just as you have embraced the Global Compact.
This network has been working for many years to instil the tenets of corporate responsibility into Japanese business. Many of you are partnering with the UN and others to promote greater sustainability and to help move us towards a safer, healthier, more equitable and resilient future.
Your numerous working groups on key issues, such as human rights, biodiversity and reporting, show the dedication of Global Compact participants to sharing knowledge and collaborating on pressing issues. I would like to thank those of you engaged in our Caring for Climate initiative and undertaking extra efforts to innovate and advocate for a low-carbon future. And I would like to commend your important partnership in the Global Compact’s China-Japan-Korea dialogue and the successful meeting your network convened this past year. Through these kinds of engagements, you are advancing the core goals of the UN.
Dear friends, looking ahead, I urge this Network to expand its membership rapidly. Encourage companies of all sizes to join in our common endeavour and advocate for the Compact’s principles with your peers in Japan.
Now is the time. This year is the year for action on all fronts for a sustainable future. This week, nations met in Sendai for the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. In July, the United Nations will host the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa. In September, discussions on the post-2015 development framework will culminate with the Special Summit on Sustainable Development. And in December, a meaningful universal climate change agreement should be adopted in Paris.
Business has — and will have — a key role in the success of all these forums and the implementation of their outcomes. I hope your Network can be an inspiration in Japan and beyond for advancing global sustainable development goals.
Japan has a long history of innovation, and we live in a time when innovation is at a premium. We need you to act for the good of your businesses and society. With your engagement and creativity, I am confident that the Japanese Global Compact Local Network can do its part to advance the sustainable growth of Japanese business while contributing to addressing the challenges we all face in forging a sustainable future.
I am very proud that you are so committed to the goals of the UN, and I am confident that, with your proven determination and support, you will be able to make a difference. Thank you for your leadership and support.