Press Releases

    SG/SM/9753
    ECO/81
    9 March 2005

    Business Community Has “Direct Stake” in Helping World Reach Anti-Poverty Goals, Says Secretary-General in Message to South Asia Global Compact Meeting

    NEW YORK, 8 March (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the Global Compact Regional Conclave, in Jamshedpur, India, 8 March:

    It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings to all who have gathered for this important regional meeting.  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.  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 Millennium Development Goals.

    Many countries are making good progress toward the goals.  But 1.2 billion people still languish in poverty -- living on less than $1 a day, lacking access to basic health and social services, and leaving the entire world less secure.  The goals can be reached by the target year of 2015.  But it is clear that concerted efforts are needed to overcome the barriers.

    The business community has a direct stake in helping countries reach the goals and achieve broad-based, sustainable development.  Reducing poverty helps create stable and inclusive markets, as well as the purchasing power that allows markets to grow.  It also helps to increase productivity and ease social tensions.  And it enables workforces to become healthy and more dynamic.  Indeed, responsible corporate citizenship has become the management philosophy of a growing number of enterprises, large and small.  They have found that such an approach, emphasizing transparency, a focus on stakeholders and the well-being of a company’s own workers, helps to drive long-term success.

    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.  This meeting is also a contribution to the wider process of change and renewal at the United Nations, which will culminate in a Summit meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York in September.  If 2003 was a year of deep division in the international community, and 2004 was a time of sober reflection, 2005 must be a year of bold action to adapt the United Nations and find effective, collective answers to the challenges of our time, from terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to poverty, disease, crime and environmental degradation.

    Historic, fundamental progress is possible in all of these areas.  But it will depend on the will of governments, and on the engagement of key partners such as you.  I hope you will do your part to build support for what we are trying to achieve:  effective policies and actions that serve all the world’s people.  At this crucial time in our work for peace and development, I offer my best wishes for a successful meeting.

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