Ban Ki-moon’s perspective on business: what does the Secretary-General say about private sector engagement and corporate social responsibility?
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made a number of key speeches on private-sector engagement.
In January 2007, the Secretary-General addressed the UNA-USA Business Council for the United Nations and the Association for a Better New York. In this speech, the Secretary-General outlined his perspective on private sector engagement with the UN:
“Business and the United Nations might seem to have different purposes. Business has traditionally focused on growth and profit. The United Nations focuses its energies on peace and security, poverty reduction, and human rights. But many of our objectives are the same: building and supporting strong economies and communities, providing opportunities for people to pursue a livelihood, and ensuring that everyone can live in dignity. In these goals, the UN and businesses are partners. Business cannot survive or thrive if societies fail or if people feel that their security is threatened. Business is increasingly aware of this symbiotic relationship with society, and of the role that responsible business practices can play in fostering the very stability that business needs to prosper.
“The United Nations and business need each other. We need your innovation, your initiative, your technological prowess. But business also needs the United Nations. In a very real sense, the work of the United Nations can be viewed as seeking to create the ideal enabling environment within which business can thrive.” (1)
The Secretary-General spoke further on the topic of private sector engagement in his opening and closing remarks at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders’ Summit in July 2007.
While opening the summit, the Secretary-General described the present time as one in which "the objectives and priorities of the international community and the business world are more aligned than ever before.
“Shared goals, from market-building to environmental protection and social inclusion, have enabled us to build unprecedented partnerships among business, governments, civil society, labour and the United Nations.
“In our interdependent world, business leadership cannot be sustained without showing leadership on environmental, social and governance issues.
“That interdependence brings with it a fundamental realization: that power cannot be separated from responsibility; that, for business to enjoy sustained growth, we need to build trust and legitimacy; that, for markets to expand in a sustainable way, we must provide those currently excluded with better and more opportunities to improve their livelihoods.” (2)
In closing, the Secretary-General stated that “together, we can achieve a new phase of globalisation — one that creates inclusive and sustainable markets, builds development and enhances international cooperation.” (3)
In January 2008, the Secretary-General prepared an address for delivery to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It outlined several new private sector partnerships with the UN, particularly in the areas of water and development. (4)
If you would like to express your ideas for partnership, whether they are in their early stages of conceptualisation or more fully developed, you are welcome to use the forms on this site to propose your idea for partnership.