Innovation, ‘Doing Business Right’ Must Play Part in Improving World, Ensuring Sustainable Future, Secretary-General Tells Global Compact Leaders Summit

22 June 2016

Innovation, ‘Doing Business Right’ Must Play Part in Improving World, Ensuring Sustainable Future, Secretary-General Tells Global Compact Leaders Summit

Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at 2016 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit:  Making Global Goals Local Business, in New York, today:

It is a great pleasure to join you for the 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit.  I warmly welcome all the participants who have come to the United Nations today from the worlds of business, civil society, labour and academia as well as the many young people who are here in force.

All of you are leaders in the campaign for a world without poverty, a thriving planet, a vibrant and inclusive global economy and a life of dignity for all.  This is the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, agreed upon by the Member States of the UN in September last year.

Last year’s adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, together with the historic Paris Agreement on climate change, sent a powerful message far and wide:  we cannot continue on our current course.  We need new ways of living that will end the suffering, discrimination and lack of opportunity that define the lives of billions of people around the world and that drive instability and conflict.

The solutions must involve everyone, from world leaders and chief executives, to educators and philanthropists.  We must work together — across sectors and industries — in broader and deeper partnerships.  Sustainable development cannot be separated from fighting the impact of climate change.  The Paris Agreement will reinforce climate action and make important contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals.  A holistic development model will take climate impact and fragile ecosystems into account and will benefit both people and the planet.

Trillions of dollars will be invested in infrastructure in the coming years.  Governments and the private sector must align their investment and infrastructure decisions with the Sustainable Development Goals and with the goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 2°C.  If possible, we must strive to lower it down to 1.5°C.

The Paris Agreement and the SDGs give the private sector an unprecedented opportunity to create clean-energy, climate-resilient, sustainable economies.  We are at a decisive moment in the shift to sustainable and inclusive markets.

Two steps are essential.  First, we need to mobilize the global business community as never before.  All businesses, everywhere, can and should play a role in improving our world.  That starts with integrity — doing business right.

I have seen first-hand the power of the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.  They are helping thousands of companies contribute to sustainability.  I ask each of the corporate leaders here and entrepreneurs today to renew your commitment to principled business and to speak up for the UN Global Compact.

Second, innovation will be crucial.  I urge you to take advantage of the new markets and solutions that are emerging, to set corporate goals inspired by the SDGs and to let sustainability drive innovation and investment.

As a starting point, the UN Global Compact launched a search for entrepreneurs and changemakers who can play a pivotal role.  Today, I am honoured to announce the 10 2016 Global Compact SDG Pioneers.  Please join me in congratulating:

  • Kerry Adler of Canada;
  • Zubaida Bai of India;
  • Farzana Chowdhury of Bangladesh;
  • Sonia Favaretto of Brazil;
  • Liang Xiaohui of China;
  • Patrick Ngowi of Tanzania;
  • Claus Stig Pedersen of Denmark;
  • Ulisses Sabara of Brazil;
  • Dina Sherif of Egypt; and 
  • Ulysses Smith of the United States.

I call on the 10 SDG Pioneers to please stand up so that we can thank you!  Thank you.  Congratulations and I count on your strong commitment and engagement.  I think that even though I announced the 10 pioneers, you are all champions and you are all pioneers.  Thank you very much for your strong engagement.

The Global Compact is uniquely prepared and positioned to help businesses seize the opportunities of the SDG era.  The Compact’s 80 local networks are the ideal launching pad for campaigns to turn global goals into local business.

Achieving the SDGs will require unprecedented cooperation and extraordinary leadership.  And it will require us each to be a pioneer, forging ahead into new territory.  That means taking personal and corporate responsibility for how we do business and who we choose as our staff and partners.  It means taking stock of our decisions as consumers and investors.  It also means raising our voices and taking a stand when it matters.

The United Nations Global Compact is the forum to make all this happen.  In my 10 years as Secretary-General, we have come a long way.  The Global Compact was established under my predecessor, Kofi Annan, and I am very encouraged by its significant expansion during my time in office in the last nine-plus years.

Together, we have helped to put corporate sustainability on the map.  The United Nations Global Compact now has over 13,000 signatories in 165 countries.  Congratulations, and I thank you for your strong engagement and commitment.

I congratulate you all on this enormous success.  Institutional investors representing an astonishing $60 trillion in assets have signed up to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment.  Over 600 business schools are committed to teaching according to the Principles for Responsible Management Education.

The Global Compact’s Caring for Climate initiative is now the largest coalition of businesses actively engaging on climate.  Global Compact action platforms are providing ways for business to engage with the United Nations on issues from peace and security to women’s empowerment and the rule of law.

I hope and expect my successor to back you as enthusiastically as I have.  Together, we have shown that responsible business must be part of the solution to the global challenges we face.  Now, we must have the courage and determination to turn the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals into action for the better future we want.

I thank you for your leadership and your strong engagement and commitment.  Thank you very much.

For information media. Not an official record.