New York

14 January 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at UN Global Compact Board Meeting Luncheon [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Members of the Global Compact Board, Ms. Lise Kingo, Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure to join you at this lunch.

My thanks to our co-hosts, Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark, and Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo, Permanent Representative of South Africa.

2015 was a watershed year. We agreed to major global frameworks to address sustainable development and climate change.

This is a huge step forward. We should all be proud that we have laid the foundations for a new era of cleaner, safer, more sustainable development and taken responsibility for our planet and our future. 

Reaching these milestones required all nations and all sectors to come together, setting aside differences and focusing on universal values.
We must not lose this focus on global solidarity. 
The world still faces enormous challenges that cannot be solved by one country or sector alone. Violence, exclusion, inequality and injustice are everywhere. The impact of climate change is already being felt and may become even more unpredictable.
We face difficult times.
Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement have given us a roadmap for a sustainable future.
But frameworks are just the beginning. Our task now is to take forward these global agreements. It is time to put promises into action.
2016 will be the year of implementation.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and limit global temperature rises to less than two degrees, all parts of society—from local organizations to global corporations—must be part of the solution.  

But business has a particular and indispensable part to play.

You are the economic engine that drives development. You are generating prosperity, improving standards of living and access to essential education and health services. And increasingly, you are demonstrating that green business is good business.

According to the Carbon Disclosure Project, more than one thousand companies have set an internal price for carbon or plan to do so in future. This is a ten-fold increase in the past year.

Carbon markets are linking up between cities and global regions. Investors are de-carbonizing their portfolios.

These are important and valuable steps. But we need to go further, faster.

You yourselves have said by a majority of two to one that business is not doing enough to address climate change.

Many companies are committed. But many more are not.

Climate sensitivity must become standard for all industries; not an afterthought or an add-on. 

I urge you as Global Compact participants and Board members to bring business to the tipping point, to exploit economies of scale and to lead by example.

It is time for companies everywhere to bring sustainability into the center of their operations and the mainstream of their thinking.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

When it comes to UN-business collaboration, I am particularly pleased that companies are more interested in working with the UN, valuing our principles, our convening power and technical expertise.

A growing number of UN offices, departments and agencies have dedicated staff working on partnerships with business.

And thanks partly to the UN Global Compact, responsible business practices based on the universal principles on human rights, labour standards, environment and anti-corruptionare becoming mainstream in many parts of the world.

We must build more and stronger partnerships if we are to move forward and have a lasting impact on people’s lives. Questions of integrity, accountability and transparency must be front and center as we scale up our work with business.

The Global Compact’s Ten Principles provide a universal definition for responsible business. And commitment to the Global Compact can be a helpful indicator in partner selection within the United Nations.

I am pleased that the UN Global Compact is convening its Board and UN leadership, as well as the UN Private Sector Focal Point Network, this afternoon for a frank and forward-looking exchange on these issues.

As you explore strategies for the future, I urge you to be bold and ambitious. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement hold the promise of a better, safer, greener future for all. 

Let us make 2016 another historic year when commitments are transformed into results.

Governments must take the lead. Finding the resources and political will to take these agendas forward will require strength and perseverance.

Mobilizing private sector action this year will be critical in the long journey to shifting mindsets and actions.
I am pleased to hear that you will be launching a special programme on the SDGs and translate them into business action everywhere. 
We know we can achieve transformational change when we find common ground and work together.
Thank you again. I am grateful for your leadership and partnership.