Istanbul, Turkey

09 May 2011

Secretary-General's Remarks at High-Level Meeting on Investment and Partnerships

Your Excellency, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan of Turkey

Distinguished Heads of State and Government,


Distinguished business CEOs,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you for joining us today to launch the Private Sector Track of the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries.

The LDC conference takes place just once every ten years.

What makes this decade's conference quite remarkable –indeed historic –is the scale of participation of the business community.

This is both supply-driven and demand-driven.

On the supply side, the international community –including multilateral organizations such as the United Nations –has grown to recognize the important role the private sector can and must play in sustainable development.

From reducing poverty to beating climate change, collective action is the key.

Partnerships that unite the public sector, business and civil society –offer the best hope of creating a more sustainable future.

This is why Governments and the United Nations are creating ever-widening policy spaces and opportunities to engage business.

During today's sessions, you will hear from many LDCs about how they are creating tangible opportunities for businesses across a spectrum of industries, sectors and issues.

On the demand side, the past decade has seen rising private-sector interest and investment in the LDCs.

Many companies are here today because of their commitment to business strategies that are designed to generate profits while helping to advance development.

The challenges and problems of the LDCs are severe.

It is therefore vital that they build their productive capacities to support vibrant economies.

To do that, they need private-sector growth.

But economic growth and business development must be pursued in ways that are sustainable in the broadest sense -- economic, social, and environmental.

Investment and business activity must include commitments to corporate sustainability and responsibility and the highest standards of business ethics.

These are the principles embodied in the United Nations Global Compact.

Many companies here today are already involved in the Global Compact, and I encourage its further spread in the LDCs.

One of the core elements of the Compact is its focus on good governance.

As I said this morning, it is no coincidence that the three countries that have graduated from the LDC category rank high on this measure.

Systemic corruption and conflict are holding back too many LDCs.

Governments must do everything they can to stamp out corruption and pursue peace.

Doing so will give businesses the confidence to invest for the long-term.

The fact remains that, while some progress has been achieved in the LDCs, human development indicators remain appallingly low.

Only a handful of LDCs are on track to achieve their Millennium Development Goal [targets].

The next few days will feature many sessions on how companies can work in partnership with governments and civil society to achieve the optimum conditions to generate prosperity.

From water sustainability to financing, from climate change to women's empowerment, business has an important role to play.

One important outcome of the private sector track at this conference will be a statement with recommendations to governments on how to create the proper enabling space for business growth in LDCs.

Let us seize the occasion of this LDC conference, and the active participation of business, to create a new compact –a Compact for Prosperity for the LDCs.

By helping these next-wave economies fulfil their potential we can drive sustainable development for all.

Thank you very much for your leadership.