New York

14 January 2016

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

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Ms. Lise Kingo, Distinguished Global Compact Board Members,

Good morning. I am very pleased to be with you today. Thank you for taking the time to join us in New York at the start of the new year. 

We are beginning 2016 with great energy. We are inspired by the landmark agreements reached last year on the Sustainable Development Goals and on Climate Change.

I want to thank everyone at the Global Compact, and the business community as a whole, for the constructive role you played in both of these transformative steps.

We have demonstrated a common commitment to change.

We have put the world on cleaner, greener, more sustainable course.

We have taken responsibility for our climate and our children’s future. We can all be proud of that.

But there is plenty of work to do in 2016.

I hope the Global Compact will play a leading role in implementing the SDGs. Our 13,000 signatories based in 170 countries, and our local networks, can be a force for change from the ground up. We have a strong track record of translating UN goals and issues into concrete business action.

The Global Compact’s founding principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption resonate everywhere.

Over the years, I have launched Global Compact initiatives on climate, water, women’s empowerment, children’s rights, management education, peace and rule of law.
Taken together, these impressive programmes cover many of the issues that now come under the SDGs.

Caring for Climate and the Women’s Empowerment Principles are the largest business-led initiatives of their kind, doing excellent work to embed these issues into corporate life and practice.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Global Compact’s participant base is proof of the universal appeal and relevance of your mission. You have drawn in companies equally from developed and developing nations, from the largest corporations to the smallest enterprises.

The Global Compact has expanded across issues and regions to become a truly global movement. I thank you as Board members for your work leading local networks and steering committees.

Now, I ask all the members of this Board to step up and strengthen the Global Compact’s special role in corporate sustainability. Agenda 2030 and the SDGs provide a clear path for the Global Compact’s engagement with business into the future.

The Global Compact is in an ideal position to explain the sustainable development agenda to the corporate sector, and to equip businesses to respond.

Thanks in part to your efforts, we are close to reaching a tipping point for sustainable business.

I thank Lise Kingo for putting forward new approaches for growing the initiative and strengthening the Local Networks, and for identifying the Sustainable Development Goals as the priority in 2016 and beyond.

The Global Compact Leaders Summit here in New York in June will be an opportunity to demonstrate how business is already putting the SDGs into action. Having attended the past three Summits, I am confident that this stage can be a turning point for how businesses globally understand and respond to our new Global Goals.

By placing a focus on bottom-up business solutions at the country level through the Local Networks, we will be reaching everyday business leaders and aligning their actions to help solve our world’s greatest challenges. As Board members, please help us make the Leaders Summit a success.

I am also happy that today’s agenda has heavy focus on strengthening UN-business engagement across the Organization.

The UN’s humanitarian agencies have a strong record of collaboration with the private sector. One of my top priorities this year is the World Humanitarian Summit that will take place in May in Istanbul.

I encourage you to engage fully with the Summit. 

Partnerships between the private sector and humanitarian organizations offer great mutual benefits in preventing, preparing for, responding to and recovering from emergencies.

We hope to launch a global framework at the Summit that will connect private sector organizations with each other, and with humanitarian partner organisations and governments. The framework will identify, create and support local private sector networks for risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery in countries and regions that are prone to crisis.

I look forward to new commitments, innovative solutions and partnerships emerging from the Summit.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The worlds of international diplomacy and private enterprise can seem very different. They have their own customs, habits and even languages. We speak fluent diplomacy; you speak fluent business.

But ultimately, we are all working for the same goals of peace, sustainable development and human rights. The United Nations is counting on the Global Compact to be our translators and to help us reach businesses with our messages.

And equally important: please let us know what business needs from us.

With a refined strategy and the efforts of this esteemed Board, I am confident in the future of the Global Compact.

Thank you for your dedication.

And now, I look forward to hearing from you.