Addressing the United Nations Global Compact board meeting this afternoon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said everyone held a stake in ending poverty, transforming people’s lives and protecting the planet.
“We live in paradoxical times,” said Mr. Ban. “We see enormous wealth, technological progress and unprecedented opportunity on the one hand, coupled with great inequality and fragmentation, extremist violence, and environmental degradation on the other.”
Despite progress in many areas, including reducing poverty and improving healthcare, he said individual and group interests still take precedence over universal priorities too often.
“Ultimately, our interdependent world will prosper or perish as one,” he said calling for conviction and courage to change course and take responsibility for the planet and the people.
That change of course would involve a commitment to sustainable development, a restructuring of the global financial system in line with people’s needs, and an urgent response to the challenge of human-induced climate change.
He looked forward to a momentous year ahead and said the Global Compact had proven that progress can be made when all key players are engaged on issues of common importance.
“The Global Compact’s blueprint for change has been tested, and it works,” he said. “Business is proving that the power of collaboration is enormous. We are seeing markets beginning to transform from within, based on actions taken by business to respect and support human rights, provide decent work, account for environmental impacts and end bribery and corruption.”
He said the world would need the help of the Global Compact’s board to meet several milestones that the international community had ahead.
“The spirit of the Global Compact will be at the heart of the new global agenda for sustainable development, which will be agreed here in New York in September,” he said, noting that his recently released synthesis report – The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet – emphasized the role to be played by the private sector in achieving the proposed sustainable development goals.
Private sector financing would be essential to the new agenda, and business would be essential in efforts to achieve a universal, meaningful agreement on climate change in Paris in December.
“We must be bold. We must act together. We must make 2015 a year of global action,” he said.
The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.