Abuja, Nigeria

24 August 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at event "The role of Nigerian business and philanthropy in implementing the SDGs and addressing climate change"

[As prepared for delivery]

Distinguished business leaders and philanthropists,

Thank you for your warm welcome. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with such distinguished and influential business leaders.

We are here today because we share a common objective: advancing prosperity for people and for our planet.

I want to thank Mr. Aliko Dangote for helping to bring us together. I appreciate his strong support as a member of the Steering Committee of my Global Education First Initiative.

I also want to extend my deep appreciation to all of you.

As business leaders and philanthropists, you are drivers of economic and social transformation in Nigeria. Many of you have built your success by innovating solutions to various social needs. I am also delighted to see many women leaders among you.

I am very pleased to be accompanied by a number of my senior advisors, including a famous son of Nigeria Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA; and a famous daughter of Nigeria, my Special Advisor on development issues, Assistant Seretary-General Amina Mohammad.

We also have Mr. Mohammad Chambas, my Special Representative for the UN Office for West Africa and Ms. Zainab Bangura, My Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.

Ladies and gentleman,

This is a pivotal year for global cooperation. Next month, world leaders will gather in New York to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals, our pathway for the next 15 years.

In December at the Climate Change Conference in Paris, we have a golden opportunity to reach a meaningful, universal climate agreement.

This, of course, is also a significant year in Nigeria’s history – with a peaceful and exemplary democratic transfer of power.

Leaders from throughout the country must now work like never before to bolster the economy, build resilient communities and counter the threat of terrorism. These are complex challenges. But they are not unique to Nigeria.

While Governments have the primary responsibility to foster an environment for peace, justice and sustainable development, business and philanthropy also have a critical role.

In my eight and a half years as United Nations Secretary-General, I have learned many important lessons. Perhaps the most significant is that in today’s world, no country and no institution can solve challenges on its own.

We must harness the power of the private sector and civil society for shared solutions to complex challenges.

We need to build an inclusive global partnership, with mutual accountability and a fair sharing of responsibilities. We must leverage our comparative strengths, capacities and resources to achieve meaningful results.

The new Sustainable Development Goals provide a platform for aligning private action and public policies for common good. They are everyone’s business, everywhere.

Whether you are a company, foundation or government-- you thrive when society thrives.

You lose amidst poverty, disease, inequality, conflict, illiteracy, abuse of human rights, and poor governance.

There is also an increasing understanding that economic growth and social progress go hand in hand and result in peaceful societies.

Addressing climate has many benefits, including for health, cleaner air, national security, energy and food security. Countries and companies can reap enormous dividends by taking the lead in developing clean energy technologies and markets.

The world needs business to help improve living standards. But the world does not need business as usual.

We must put people and the planet at the centre of what we do – underpinned by universal human rights. Through the United Nations Global Compact we are working to orient businesses everywhere towards responsibility and accountability.

I am convinced that Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy and as the most populous country on the Continent, can spark a race to the top, and show the region, and the world, that a pathway to sustainable development is possible. I am counting on each and every one of you to help us change course towards a more prosperous and equitable future.

I welcome the strengthened engagement of new and emerging philanthropists here in Nigeria, and indeed all over Africa.

You have my personal assurance that the United Nations stands ready to partner with you for a better world.

My office is strengthening outreach to philanthropists, particularly from the South, to build a strong coalition of locally focused but globally minded actors like you. I ask you to join this global coalition.

Mobilize your peers. Define concrete objectives and clear timetables. Build on what we have begun today in Nigeria.

I therefore look forward to receiving a coordinated plan of action from you. I have instructed my office to work closely with you to help make this happen.

I now look forward to hearing your views on how the UN can better support your efforts to ensure sustainable development in Nigeria.

Before that, I wish to invite my Special Advisor on Post 2015 Development Planning, Ms. Amina Mohammed to briefly set the context by outlining the opportunity presented by the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you