New York

21 June 2011

Secretary-General's message to lunch with Ambassadors and the United Nations Global Compact Board [delivered by Mr. Kim Wonsoo, Assistant-Secretary-General and Deputy Chef de Cabinet]

The Global Compact has brought additional resources, good will and global reach to our work for development, human rights and good governance.

Last month at the UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul, the Compact coordinated a successful Private Sector Track. This was the first time that business was formally integrated into the programme of a major UN Conference. And that step brought significant results, including a mentoring system for LDC stock exchanges, projects to engage local businesses and women in sustainable tourism, and a programme to enhance agricultural productivity through new technologies. By including a Private Sector Track in the LDC Conference, we were able to catalyze new partnerships, trigger business-to-business transactions, and lay the groundwork for scaling up economic development in the LDCs.

We must carry this spirit of public-private collaboration forward to next year's Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Sustainability is a challenge for governments, businesses and all sectors. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions to avoid large-scale climate disaster. We must find ways to bring the poor into market systems. And we must ensure food, nutrition, energy and water security.

Business has an important role to play in finding solutions to all these issues. The Global Compact is already working with committed business leaders on a range of matters that are directly relevant to the Rio+20 agenda. Initiatives on food and water, good governance, sustainable finance and investment, management education and sustainable cities are under way and hold promise.

Clean, accessible and affordable energy, in particular, is essential to sustainable development. Access to energy can help lift societies from poverty by creating wealth and opportunity. And low-carbon energy production is our best hope to combat climate change. I am encouraged to see that the Global Compact has started serious work on this critical issue and I expect these efforts to make an important contribution to the UN agenda on energy.

In the eleven years since its launch, the Compact has sought to make the private sector a critical actor in advancing sustainability. With your support, we can do even more to ensure that the skills, leadership, resources and innovation of business contribute to our efforts to build a more sustainable global economy and achieve truly sustainable development.