London, England

25 March 2015

Secretary-General's message to SEDEX Global Responsible Sourcing Conference [delivered by Mr. Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact]

I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at this important conference.  I thank Sedex for focusing on the timely and important topic of responsible sourcing and the post-2015 development agenda.
This can be the year that we seize the once-in-a generation opportunity to both adopt a new sustainable development agenda and reach a global agreement on climate change.  The private sector has an important role in this bold agenda.
I thank the business leaders here that are already working hard within your companies and throughout your supply chains to be responsible - and I ask for your help in the making 2015 a historic year.
Business can make major contributions to widespread improvements in living standards. And markets are key to creating and diffusing solutions that will drive progress in our world. But this will not happen through 'business as usual.'
That is why we created the United Nations Global Compact.  More than 8,000 companies in 160 countries have joined the initiative, committing to embed principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption in their operations.
The majority are small- and medium-sized enterprises linked to global markets through supply chains that extend around the globe.  No matter how large or small, these companies have affirmed the importance of sustainability in today’s globalized world.
I am pleased that Sedex – as well as some of you here – are actively engaged with the UN Global Compact Advisory Group on Supply Chain Sustainability as well as the Local Network in the UK.
You in the business community are very much aware that, wherever in the world your supply chain extends, strong markets and strong societies go hand in hand.  Instability and conflict have a negative impact on economic growth and opportunities.  The same goes for disease, degraded environments, and poor access to food, water and energy.
Now more than ever, it is critical for leaders to come together to tackle these pressing challenges throughout your supply chain and create shared value for the global economy.
I commend your efforts to advance United Nations goals and wish you a successful meeting.