Message to 5th Multinational Corporations Leaders' Roundtable

23 Jun 2012

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

Beijing, 23 June 2012

I am pleased to greet the 5th Multinational Corporations Leaders’ Roundtable.  Business has been among the drivers of globalization and has brought the world closer together.  Your focus on corporate responsibility can be equally important in securing our future.  From the global economic crisis to climate change and the impact of natural disasters, governments, businesses and societies have all arrived at the same conclusion: sustainability matters.  It matters for peace and security; it matters for global markets; it matters, above all, for our development as a human family.

Government leadership will be crucial in harnessing the tremendous power for change that exists within the business community.  But without the knowledge, technologies and innovation that companies offer, our prospects remain limited on a planet that is on an unsustainable course.  Through corporate responsibility, the private sector can help reverse this trend.  Companies that are already doing this – including a growing number of Chinese enterprises – are finding that investing in people is simultaneously good for business.

In China and around the world, the United Nations continues to forge strong partnerships with the private sector, including through initiatives such as the UN Global Compact.  Earlier this week, at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, nearly 3,000 business leaders and others from more than 100 countries – including China – attended the Corporate Sustainability Forum, a Global Compact initiative.  The participants generated about 200 new ideas and commitments, with clear targets as well as promises to report annually on progress.  Our challenge now, on the road from Rio+20, is to sustain this momentum, bring corporate sustainability to the next level, and ensure that companies everywhere deliver value not just financially but also in social, environmental and ethical terms – the quadruple bottom-line.

I welcome the collaboration between the private sector and the United Nations on energy, climate change, water, food, health, education, employment, anti-corruption, women’s empowerment and our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  At the same time, there is still a long way to go before we will see the full potential of corporate sustainability.  I therefore urge you to take bold steps commensurate with your status as leading global enterprises.  Together, we can build the future we want.  Please accept my best wishes for a productive and successful meeting.