New York

18 September 2017

Secretary-General's remarks at UN Private Sector Forum [as delivered]

Let me start by a brutal sentence: Either the Sustainable Development Goals are fully assumed with enlightened self-interest by the business community, the private sector, and the financial sector, or the Sustainable Development Goals will be a very nice exercise in diplomatic discussions in New York and maybe in some policies of some governments, but the impact on people, the impact on poverty, the impact on the planet, will be extremely extremely small.  This is now an objective that can only work if the whole of society engages, and the role of the business community, the private sector, the financial sector, is also crucial.  Without your leadership, our project will simply fail.
 
They say money makes the world go around.
 
A different way of saying this is that money, in fact finance, can make or break all our carefully laid plans.
 
We have a blueprint for peace, prosperity and dignity for all on a healthy planet: the 2030 Agenda.
 
With 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it is a roadmap for inclusive, sustainable and fair globalization.
 
But finance is pivotal for success.
 
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda highlights the importance of being innovative when it comes to mobilizing and accessing resources and financing for development.  
 
This includes tax reform and other governance reforms by developing countries themselves – but also international efforts to fight tax evasion, money laundering and the illicit financial flows that have depleted domestic resource bases. 
 
Much of our effort at the United Nations is to make sure that we help governments around the world be able to manage, and be able to attract, innovative finance, and be able to attract private investment in ways that allow the private investment to have a normal life in a rule of law environment.  This will be our priority. 
 
But let us be clear: when we look at Africa today, the amounts that leave Africa, based on illicit flows of capital, based on money laundering, are much bigger than the whole of official development aid to Africa.  So we have here a common effort in making Governments able to ensure good governance, rule of law, and to attract and manage adequate investment from abroad.  But let’s organize the international community in order to make sure that, indeed, tax evasion, money laundering, and international illicit flows are much more difficult than what happens today.
 
At the same time, we must make sure that donors uphold commitments to Official Development Assistance. 
 
And it means helping developing countries attract innovative finance and gain greater access to financial markets and private investment.
 
The world has more than enough savings to finance the 2030 Agenda.
 
But today these savings are not flowing in the right direction.
 
That is why I am so pleased to see so many business leaders, especially from finance, in the room today.
 
On behalf of the United Nations I want to thank you for your support.
 
We are doing a lot, but we need to do much more, and we can only do it with you.
 
We saw during the global financial crisis what happens when finance loses its ethical moorings.
 
That is why I am championing a strategy on finance that will build on the work we are already doing together, including through the Global Compact and its ten principles.
 
My strategy will focus on three areas:
 
First, I will work to make the 2030 Agenda more firmly embedded into international economic and financial policy making, including by engaging with key inter-governmental platforms such as the G20.
 
Second, our UN country teams will work harder to support countries in brokering partnerships for innovative finance, and better accessing domestic and international, public and private resources for sustainable development.
 
Third, we will champion international initiatives that can harness finance for critical areas, such as closing the digital divide and climate finance.
 
A key to success will be innovation.
 
We must unite public and private investors around new concepts, solutions and instruments, and we need to do so at scale.
 
I am speaking here of addressing major issues such as health, food, water, sanitation, education, women’s empowerment – and, of course, infrastructure.
 
I hope this strategy will support your efforts to deliver finance for sustainability.
 
To further enhance our efforts we plan to host a Finance Summit in New York in September next year.
 
I count on your engagement.
 
The world has the resources to deliver the 2030 Agenda. 
 
Let us organize ourselves and liberate them and deliver them to where they are needed most.