Davos, Switzerland

25 January 2013

Secretary-General's remarks at Global Compact LEAD Lunch [as prepared for delivery; delayed in transmission]

Two years ago we launched Global Compact LEAD here in Davos.

Since then, your companies have led the way to the next generation of corporate sustainability performance.

You have provided an important example to Global Compact participants on issues such as Board engagement, partnerships and disclosure.

Now, LEAD is moving out of the “pilot” phase into a fully-fledged initiative to spur even greater action, innovation and collaboration.

Your engagement could not come at a more critical time.  Delivering a better future for all will require action by all.  Business is essential to advancing UN goals and issues.

As we look to the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, we need your input, ideas and partnerships.

You will find the UN is increasingly ready, willing and able to work closely with you on concrete partnerships, and at scale.

Thanks in part to the work of the Global Compact LEAD task force on partnerships, which helped to define our direction, the entire UN system is prioritizing partnerships as a means to improved delivery at global and at country level.

Already the multi-stakeholder partnerships we are building are working effectively on sustainable energy for all, climate, water, maternal and child health, education, and food and nutrition security – a formidable base for sustainable development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Business can spur a revolution in sustainability.  But, this will not happen through business as usual.

Investment and business activity must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and ethical terms.

The good news is that the pieces are in place.  After more than a decade of building principles and partnerships, the Global Compact is on the brink of unleashing business action and impact on a massive scale.

We saw this potential most recently in Rio de Janeiro at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  The Corporate Sustainability Forum mobilized the largest ever private sector engagement in a United Nations event.

In Rio, business and investors put forward innovations, commitments and collaborations on areas including water, climate and energy, food, equality and education.

Now, we must build on this momentum and take corporate sustainability to the next level.

The post-2015 development agenda offers a historic chance.  It holds the promise of bringing government consensus on global sustainable development priorities, and allowing business to contribute for the benefit of all. 

But, as we know, corporate sustainability can only flourish with the right incentives and enabling environments.

I would point to two specific areas where we need to hear from you:

First, what are the most important global development issues? 

Second, where and how can business best contribute solutions?

How can we work together to achieve our sustainable development goals?

What mechanisms are already in place that work well?

What more is needed?  What obstacles do you perceive?

I look forward to hearing your views today, and receiving your recommendations through the Global Compact this May.
The world is searching for solutions.  By embedding sustainability into your company, you are helping to lead the way to a better future.

Thank you for being a part of Global Compact LEAD.  I count on your continued leadership and commitment as we shape the post-2015 world.

Thank you.