New York

09 January 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at the United Nations Global Compact Board Meeting {as prepared for delivery}

Thank you for making the time to gather together at the start of this New Year – a year that promises to be significant for global development, and for both the United Nations and the Global Compact.

This year, 2015, the United Nations is set to launch a new agenda to lead our world to a more sustainable future.

Ending poverty. Transforming lives. Protecting the planet.

We all have a stake in achieving these urgent and universal goals.

We live in paradoxical times. Despite great progress in many areas, including reducing poverty and improving healthcare, individual and group interests still take precedence over our shared priorities far too often.

We see enormous wealth, technological progress and unprecedented opportunity on the one hand; coupled with great inequality and fragmentation, extremist violence, and environmental degradation on the other.

Ultimately, our interdependent world will prosper or perish as one.

We must have the conviction and courage to change course, to take responsibility for our world and our people.

This means choosing a path of sustainable development, restructuring the global financial system in line with people’s needs, and responding urgently to the challenge of human-induced climate change.

This year will be momentous in these three areas.  2015 must be the year that we come together in a compact based on shared responsibility for a better world.

As the Global Compact has shown, progress can be made when all key players are engaged on issues of common importance.

Business is proving that the power of collaboration is enormous. We are seeing markets beginning to transform from within, based on actions taken by business to respect and support human rights, provide decent work, account for environmental impacts and end bribery and corruption. 

The Global Compact’s blueprint for change has been tested, and it works.

We have several milestones ahead, and we will need your support and guidance to meet them successfully. 

First, the spirit of the Global Compact will be at the heart of the new global agenda for sustainable development, which will be agreed here in New York in September.

In my recent Synthesis Report on this agenda, I emphasized the critical role that the private sector must play to achieve each of the proposed sustainable development goals.

Responsible business practices will be an essential pillar. So will accountability, and monitoring efforts and results.

The Global Compact Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture shows how supporting sustainability can increase the contribution of business, to everyone’s benefit.

The corporate sector will also play a part in building partnerships across stakeholder groups -- which is why I have proposed to the General Assembly the establishment of a dedicated Partnership Facility. This facility would work hand-in-hand with the Global Compact in a mutually reinforcing way, making the United Nations more relevant than ever to the multi-stakeholder global agenda. 

Second, the role of private sector financing will be essential. Both Governments and the financial community now recognize that responsible investment has great potential to influence development for the good.  The participation of Global Compact stakeholders in the Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa in July would be an important sign of your commitment.

And third, business will have an important role to play in reaching a universal, meaningful agreement on climate action in Paris next December.

Private sector advocacy for well-functioning carbon markets, smart regulatory policies and for emissions reduction targets that are in line with climate science can make a real difference. 

I ask Board members for your continued commitment. In this, your 15th anniversary year, with so much at stake, I ask each of you to act as an ambassador for the Global Compact. We need companies everywhere to join us in becoming part of the solution. 

We must be bold. We must act together. We must make 2015 a year of global action.

I look forward to hearing from you on your plans for advancing this agenda.

Thank you.