New York

02 July 2014

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

I am pleased to join you at this lunch.

I thank our hosts: Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, Ambassador U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria, and Ambassador Paul Seger of Switzerland.  Allow me to congratulate all three of you for making it to the knockout round of the World Cup!

In this room, we have experts from many fields – government, business, civil society, finance and academia. All of us are responding to the Global Compact’s call for businesses to act in responsible ways that support economies and societies.

Our world’s toughest challenges demand solutions that involve business. No sector alone can slow climate change or reverse biodiversity losses.  No single entity can end corruption, poverty and violence, or promote equality, especially for women.  Success depends on governments, companies, investors, educators, activists and citizens. Together, we can foster peace and security, protect human rights and achieve sustainable development.

This Board meeting comes as the international community is forging new sustainable development goals that can provide fresh direction for governments and the private sector beyond 2015.

The Global Compact casts a wide net, with 8,000 companies of all sizes, in both developed and developing countries. It can deliver practical solutions through its initiatives on climate, water, gender, children’s rights, peace and food.

I thank the dedicated champions – such as those Global Compact LEAD companies here today – for striving to reach greater sustainability performance. The Global Compact paper released at this lunch  shows that the pieces are in place to orient business and markets everywhere towards greater sustainability for the post-2015 era.

At the same time, we have a long road to reach a critical mass of companies answering the call. Each of us must respond.

The Principles for Responsible Investment should guide investors around the world.  Markets must increasingly reward seriously committed companies – and this will drive progress in the coming years.

In just a few weeks, the Global Compact 100 stock index will be launched on electronic markets around the world.  It shows significant market outperformance – registering impressive gains over the past three years. Those companies in the index are up over 21 per cent compared to 16 per cent for the broader stock market. This strengthens the case for sustainability.

I welcome PRI’s work to tackle climate change. By rallying investors, you are providing important momentum to the climate agenda and promoting practical responses that can make a huge difference. This is exactly what my Climate Summit in September is about: catalysing actions across all sectors and supporting a meaningful new agreement. I hope to see all of you there.

Educators can help by shaping future business leaders. I thank the PRME Champions Group for advancing responsible business education in over 500 institutions around the world. This complements our Academic Impact initiative in sensitizing young people to broader social, environment and ethical responsibilities.

I also encourage governments to help accelerate business solutions towards sustainability. This means creating an enabling environment, providing incentives, and encouraging companies to enhance accountability.

I am grateful to those Governments that are advancing responsible business practices, especially those supporting the Global Compact. Thank you for your leadership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have an opportunity now to mobilize business globally to act on all three pillars of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental. Our roadmap is the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture. It outlines the building blocks for how to motivate and support global business in advancing sustainable development goals.

Business is essential to progress. Yet we will need to mobilize the unique strengths of a broad range of actors to meet our goals. That is why I have proposed a UN Partnership Facility to help fill gaps in UN capacity and take partnerships to scale. 

The Global Compact and its local networks will be critical to harness private sector support.

Let us work together to build momentum for the post-2015 agenda, and realize the full potential of business in this effort – by fostering innovation, solutions and partnerships.

We can make responsible business a transformative force for good.

Thank you.