Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

21 June 2012

Secretary-General's remarks at United Nations Global Compact High-Level Luncheon [as prepared for delivery]

It is a pleasure to join you at this high-level meeting of business, Civil Society, Government and the United Nations.

To all the speakers who have shared their thoughts with us just now: thank you for your leadership. 

We come to Rio+20 from different sectors and with different responsibilities and expectations.

But we share a common goal: putting our world on a better course.

A greener planet, prosperous and inclusive societies, thriving markets and economies.  These are aspirations that we all agree on and that resonate in all countries and every human heart.

We are here together today because the private sector is a key player in realizing the great promise of Rio+20.

We will not and cannot achieve sustainable development without your resources, technology, innovation and engagement.

That is why I am so encouraged by the Corporate Sustainability Forum.

It is clear that the Forum has generated new ideas, commitments and partnerships.

The results are truly impressive and promising.

Now we must take this energy and bring corporate sustainability to the next level.

We need companies everywhere to deliver value not just financially – but also in social, environmental and ethical terms. This is the quadruple bottom-line.

To those of you here from the private sector: I welcome your collaboration with the United Nations on energy, climate change, water, food, anti-corruption and women’s empowerment.

I will count on each of you to stay involved.  There is still a long way to go before we will see the full potential of corporate sustainability.

Of course, this can only happen with the right incentives and enabling environments. I am grateful to those Governments that have worked hard to advance responsible business practices and the Global Compact. It is my hope that Rio+20 will encourage more Governments to take such steps.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sustainable development is the priority of my second term as Secretary-General.

It is central to all our hopes of building peaceful, prosperous, equitable societies for all.

That is why we want the strongest possible outcome document to emerge from this conference.

Rio+20 is expected to launch a process to articulate a set of sustainable development goals.  The private sector can be a major force in helping to achieve these new SDGs, building on the MDGs.

I continue to press, even now, for leaders and negotiators to maintain a high level of ambition.

But the official outcome is only one measure of Rio’s success.

Perhaps even more important is the extraordinary mobilization that has already taken place – a mobilization of corporate leaders, civil society groups, ordinary citizens and others clamouring for change.

Transformation is under way. 

Where once we mostly burned our way to prosperity, today proven green growth strategies are on the rise.

Where once it was thought there is a zero-sum trade-off between growth and the environment, today we know that dynamic growth is possible while respecting the planet’s limits.

Our challenge is to scale up and come together in common cause.

We have a full agenda as we move beyond Rio.

I count on all of you here today to help in this monumental task, and am deeply grateful for your commitment.

Thank you.