New York

19 September 2016

Secretary-General's remarks at UN Private Sector Forum 2016 - "Business and the 2030 Agenda: Security the Way Forward" [as prepared for delivery]

Your Excellencies, Mr. Mogens Lykketoft and Mr. Peter Thomson, Co-Chairs of the UN High-Level Meeting of the GA to address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, Excellencies,

Distinguished leaders of business and industry, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for this opportunity to discuss how we can work together for a more sustainable future.

One year ago, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for people, the planet, peace, prosperity and partnership.

That was followed by the historic Paris Agreement on climate change and the new Agenda for Humanity.

Sustainable development, climate and humanitarian need are interconnected and urgent priorities for our world. They cannot be solved in isolation.

Solutions will involve everything from regulation to disruptive innovation – and everyone from world leaders and chief executives, to educators, activists and citizens.

Governments have reached these historic agreements despite the odds. Companies have come forward in force to take action. Citizens are making their voices heard louder than ever – and preparing to hold us all accountable to the 2030 deadline.

Now, we have to secure the way forward to 2030.

This means getting the right actions underway urgently. A strong start is essential to a successful finish.

Now is the time for Governments to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement into their national agendas. Countries must inspire and push each other to be more and more ambitious over time.

We will also need to activate business as never before, and quickly. We are spreading the word far and wide that every business has a responsibility to improve our world.

Through the UN Global Compact we are mobilizing a truly global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create the world we want. We have Compact signatories active in 165 countries, all committed to doing responsible business in line with UN principles.

Nearly every UN entity is partnering with companies to advance common objectives, from disaster relief and sanitation, to women’s empowerment and education.

We have learned that the SDGs point the way toward the business activities and markets of the future.

The 2030 Agenda promises to leave no one behind – and help the furthest behind first.

Today’s Summit for Refugees and Migrants is an essential step in upholding this promise. More and more people are on the move, leaving their homes in the search for safety and dignity.

We have a moral obligation to address the root causes and find solutions to end this suffering.

At today’s Summit world leaders are working towards a better, more unified response to large movements of refugees and migrants that will save lives, protect rights and secure their future.

Businesses also have a crucial role in this effort. I applaud all those which are taking action. But we need much more engagement.

I call on the private sector to combat xenophobia and discrimination in the workplace and communities. Business should enable equal employment opportunities for refugees and migrants. And companies should invest in education initiatives for displaced youth.

Help us by raising your voices and taking whatever actions you can to defend the most vulnerable.

In a decade as Secretary-General, I have seen what is possible when we work together. The United Nations, governments and the private sector are collaborating more, with important results. 

I am pleased to have started this annual Forum back in 2008 to bring the voices of CEOs and civil society leaders to GA week. I expect that my successor will carry forward this important dialogue, and will further grow our global partnership with business through the UN Global Compact and across the Organization.

I thank each of you here today for your commitment to bring our global agenda to life.

Despite the challenges and crises at hand, I remain convinced that we can usher in an era of peace and prosperity on a healthy planet.

Thank you for your leadership and commitment.