20 January 2016

Secretary-General, at Davos Partnership Event, Urges CEOs to Help Translate Sustainable Development Goals into Business Action, Innovation

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at “Making Public-Private Partnerships Work for the Sustainable Development Goals:  The United Nations as a Catalyst for Innovation”, in Davos today:

Thank you very much for the chance to speak to you today.  I especially appreciate Dr. David Nabarro, my Special Adviser on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and United Nations Global Compact Executive Director Lise Kingo, for bringing us together.  This is our chance to build on the impressive political momentum that led to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals so that they can start to become a reality.

This is the start of a new year and a new generational push to end poverty once and for all.

The United Nations has shown that multilateralism works when it comes to setting ambitious plans.  We now have the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Both of these are visionary and planetary.  They can change the course of history — if we live up to our promises.

We have no time to lose.  Our planet and its people are suffering too much.  This year has to be the moment for turning global promises into reality.  Governments must take the lead with decisive steps.  At the same time, businesses can provide essential solutions and resources that put our world on a more sustainable path.

I call Agenda 2030 our “declaration of interdependence”.  The world is coming to recognize more and more that problems in one country reverberate in another.  A crash in one market can drive a crisis around the world.

That is why it is so important to make the most of our collective strengths.  We will need to work together, across sectors and industries, to address how to realize new approaches to finance, investment, trade and technology.

We have seen many examples at the United Nations of how leveraging joint resources and expertise can quickly and effectively uncover solutions.  I hope to forge even more and stronger partnerships that have a real impact on people’s lives.

As we scale up our work together, we have to be guided by integrity, accountability and transparency.  We have to engage with more companies to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  And we have to make sure that every single one of those companies is committed to our universal values and principles.

You are already members of the United Nations Global Compact.  You understand that doing business responsibly is the first step for any company that wants to contribute to sustainability.

The Global Compact is already starting to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into business action and innovation.  It has 85 Global Compact Local Networks and signatories in more than 160 countries.  Right there I see enormous opportunity to mobilize action.

I ask all the CEOs here today to help us.  Your advocacy and example can drive action to achieve a life of dignity for all people.  You recognize that responsible businesses have enormous power to create decent jobs, open access to education and basic services, unlock energy solutions and end discrimination.  I count on you to drive global progress.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change marked a turning point.  And we can truly change the course of history when Governments, companies, civil society and individuals everywhere carry out these global plans.

Thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.

For information media. Not an official record.