With 1.2 billion people still earning less than $1 a day, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed initiatives by business and civil society in the Global Compact in South Asia to work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include eliminating extreme poverty.
"I welcome this strong expression of support for the United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary corporate citizenship initiative based on universal values in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption," he said in a message to the Compact's regional group, meeting in Jamshedpur, India.
"And I am very encouraged that governments, businesses, civil society groups and the labour movement in South Asia are exploring ways to work more closely together to achieve the [MDGs]."
Reducing poverty helped to create greater purchasing power and stable and inclusive markets. It also contributed to increasing productivity, easing social tensions and enabling the work force to become healthy and more dynamic, he said.
Responsible corporate citizenship had become the management philosophy of many businesses and emphasizing transparency, a focus on stakeholders and the well-being of a company's own workers are factors in long-term success, Mr. Annan said.
With a summit meeting scheduled for September at the UN, 2005 must be a year of bold action to reform the UN and find effective, collective answers to challenges ranging from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to poverty, disease, crime and environmental degradation, he said.
"I would like to thank you for your commitment to the Compact, your openness to new forms of public-private cooperation, and your efforts to bring the Compact's principles to life in South Asia and around the world," Mr. Annan said.