New York

22 September 2010

Secretary-General's remarks at Private Sector Forum on the Millennium Development Goals [as delivered]

Your Royal Highness, Infanta Cristina of Spain, Mr. President [Abdoulaye] Wade of Senegal, Co-Facilitator of the 2010 MDG Summit, Mr. Prime Minister [Lars Løkke] Rasmussen of Denmark, Co-Facilitator of the 2010 MDG Summit, Mr. President of the General Assembly, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome you to this Private Sector Forum on the Millennium Development Goals.

Ten years ago, world leaders agreed on a set of ambitious targets to end poverty and hunger, expand access to education, enhance gender equality, improve maternal and child health, combat HIV/AIDS and foster greater environmental sustainability.

The MDGs are not only a promise -- they are a test of our collective capacity and global solidarity will to advance human well-being at an unprecedented scale and pace.

The message emanating from this week's Summit is clear: The MDGs can be achieved by 2015, but only if we do more, much more, with strong commitments and concrete plans of action.

Much has been accomplished to date. Many Member States have taken great strides, especially in Africa.

But progress remains fragile. The global economic crisis has made an already hard job more challenging still.

We must invest our resources where they can achieve the greatest impact.

Three months ago, at the Global Compact Leaders Summit, I challenged more than 1,000 chief executive officers and entrepreneurs to agree on a “Development Compact” to support the MDGs.

Government leadership will be crucial. But more than ever before, we depend on the resources and capacities of the private sector to make things happen.

Business is a primary driver of innovation, investment and job creation. There is no longer any doubt that business plays an integral role in delivering economic and social progress.

I am heartened to know that so many of you have come to this Forum with new commitments for action.

They include a multi-million dollar contribution towards education technology.

Inclusive business models that provide finance and training to small farmers in Pakistan.

A public-private partnership to improve health and safety practices in African clinics.

And many others.

These commitments speak volumes about the capacity of business to generate tangible progress.

Already, many businesses have advanced employment and income generation, improved health outcomes and gender parity, provided access to safe water and sanitation and advanced environmental sustainability.

From multinational corporations to small cooperatives, experience shows that pro-poor business models are viable.

But this success also highlights the critical supportive role played by policymakers, research institutions, and finance providers.

I urge governments to create an environment in which business can flourish. That means supporting and rewarding responsible business practices. It means putting in place appropriate regulation. It means breaking down barriers to trade and reducing beaurocratic hurdles. And it means good governance.

I urge business to embrace the Development Compact, to advocate for the United Nations and its objectives, and to recognize that an investment in the MDGs is an investment in growth, prosperity and the markets of the future, a win-win proposition.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ten years of experience have shown us what works and what doesn't. We know how to achieve the MDGs, but we can only do it together. Now is the time for all of us to bring these solutions and innovations to scale.

Thank you again for being here today. I wish you all a most productive forum. Thank you very much.