Press Releases

    SG/SM/8359
    AFR/469
    ENV/DEV/694
    4 September 2002

    GROWING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS IN LEAST DEVELOPED
    COUNTRIES IS "MOST PROMISING PATHWAY" IN OVERCOMING
    POVERTY TRAP, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS

    NEW YORK, 3 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks by Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the Global Compact High-Level Round Table on Mobilizing Sustainable Investment in the Least Developed Countries, Johannesburg, 2 September:

    I am delighted to see so many of you come together for this Global Compact event dedicated to a vital aim: mobilizing sustainable investment in the least developed countries.

    Making markets work for the poorest of the world is the single biggest challenge for sustainable development, and one that the Global Compact is uniquely suited to help address.

    We know that markets have limits. Business is not willing to invest if risks are perceived too high or rewards too low. And all too often there are real impediments such as inefficient administration, inadequate infrastructure or underfunded education.

    If we want to break this cycle and escape from the trap of poverty then we need to mobilize collective efforts to overcome these barriers. This can only work if governments, business and civil society join forces and are willing to make a special effort.

    Growing sustainable business in the world’s least developed countries is arguably the most promising pathway in overcoming the poverty trap.

    By working together to mobilize sustainable investment in the least developed countries, government, business and civil society give hope and opportunity to the world’s poorest.

    All of us here stand to gain if we succeed in generating real investment and real progress in these countries, and help create the foundation for lasting development that they so desperately need.

    Fostering small- and medium-size enterprises within the least developed countries will be critical to our success in this endeavour. It is essential both for the long-term health of their economies and for the supply of goods and services to international firms.

    This is an opportunity to help focus our efforts on a specific group of countries, and put our ideas and resources to the test. I am looking forward to this discussion and I will now ask Mark Malloch Brown to take the chair.

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