New York

24 June 2010

Secretary-General's opening remarks at press conference for Global Compact Leaders Summit

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mr. Foster of Accenture. Mr. Gulabchand of Hindustan Construction.

Mr. Polman of Unilever. And Ms. Labelle of Transparency International.

Thank you, all, for joining me at this press conference.

It has been a pleasure to welcome Mayor Bloomberg and more than 1200 leaders to this Summit –our third and biggest such gathering.

Some of the world's largest and best-known companies have joined us. So have hundreds of small enterprises, labour organizations, institutional investors, and civil society groups.

We even have business schools here -- eager to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and CEOs.

No other corporate responsibility initiative is as global or as inclusive as the Global Compact.

But more important than the growing number of participants is the vision that underpins it: proving that principles and profits go hand in hand.

This morning, I called on the global business community to strengthen its commitment to corporate social responsibility. This is good for everyone's bottom line.

I urged business to do more to uphold human rights and labour rights, protect the environment and fight corruption. These issues are increasingly front and centre. Business can and should be part of the solution.

And I appealed to business leaders to tell us, in concrete terms, what they will do to help the world achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 –here at this Global Compact Leaders Summit, and at the MDG Summit at the United Nations in September.

As the world continues to reel from the financial crisis, and as climate change, poverty, resource constraints and other threats test our capabilities, we need business as our partner more than ever before.

Governments must also do their part through transparency and smart regulation –the building blocks that will allow business activity to generate the benefits we know are possible.

We are launching a number of initiatives at this Summit, including the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership.

All aim to set a course for the Compact's next decade.

Our hope is to create a truly transformative movement.

Our goal is to have 20,000 participants by 2020.

And our commitment is to do all this while maintaining the integrity of the initiative. Already, in the past two years, we have de-listed more than 1,300 companies for failing to communicate progress in implementing the Compact principles. The Compact may be a voluntary initiative, but that doesn't mean it lacks teeth

What I heard and saw this morning makes me very hopeful that these two days will help us do what we set out to do: usher in a new era of sustainability, in which business plays a central role.

Thank you very much.