United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette has issued a call for stronger ties between the United Nations and businesses in order to reach global anti-poverty targets and ensure that the benefits of globalization are more fairly distributed.
"The private sector is needed to create jobs and wealth, to promote trade, investment and stable markets, and to develop new technologies that benefit poor people - all of which, if done in the right way, will help achieve progress towards the Millennium Development Goals agreed to four years ago by world leaders," she told the United States Council for International Business dinner Tuesday in New York.
She emphasized that businesses should work with the UN in the spirit of enlightened self-interest. "The ideologies of extremism that pose such a grave threat to people of many nations are often the desperate refuge of frustrated young people - people whose lives are devoid of hope or opportunity, and who feel excluded and alienated from society," she said.
"Providing those young people with hope is both a moral obligation and an investment in the security of people everywhere - not to mention an investment in stable markets."
With globalization creating both prosperity and uncertainty, she said, the UN is doing all it can to "encourage business to respect some basic principles founded in universal values, and to harness the potential of business to promote development."
The most innovative example of this is Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Global Compact, she said. Thanks to that voluntary initiative, more than 1,500 companies from over 70 countries are taking a public stand on universal principles. "They engage in learning, dialogue and projects with other actors in society, and they subject themselves to public scrutiny, reporting annually on their progress in advancing the Compact's aims."
Urging the assembled corporate leaders to play their respective roles, she said, "Please rest assured that, when business looks to play its part in making this world a better place, the United Nations is open for business, and open to business."