UNITED NATIONS, New York, 16 June, 2020 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Presidents of Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ethiopia joined the President of the UN General Assembly and UN Secretary-General alongside dozens of Chief Executive Officers and UN chiefs at the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit to address the private sector’s response to three unprecedented and interconnected global crises — health, inequality and climate change.
Over 26 hours of continuous virtual programming — including more than 100 global, regional and local sessions — the Summit was the UN’s largest, most inclusive and most sustainable convening of purpose-driven business leaders committed to tackling societal challenges and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More than 20,000 business and sustainability leaders from over 180 countries participated in their local time zones and languages.
Under the theme of “Recover Better, Recover Stronger, Recover Together,” the event marked the 20th anniversary of the UN Global Compact, providing a platform of platforms where leaders from business, civil society, Governments and the UN were challenged to reflect on the importance of collaboration and public-private partnerships, and increase their ambition to achieve the SDGs.
“I am encouraged to see so many companies, of so many sizes and from so many sectors and countries, recognizing the urgent need for global unity and international cooperation. Our shared aim is to see businesses integrating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into their core strategy and operations, taking strong steps to support the SDGs, and reporting publicly on progress,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his opening remarks from UN Headquarters in New York.
The Leaders Summit marked the transition to new leadership for the UN Global Compact, with Sanda Ojiambo of Kenya taking over from Denmark’s Lise Kingo as Executive Director.
Reflecting on five years of leadership as the UN business chief, Ms. Kingo said “The Ten Principles and the SDGs must inform every decision and action — big and small, in every part of business. All the way into the supply chain. We need many more businesses to adopt this approach, so it becomes the new normal.”
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis, let us not forget that climate change and growing inequalities continue to shake the very foundations of business and of humanity. Now more than ever, business can and should play a central role in societal transformation,” said Ms. Ojiambo in her concluding remarks.
As part of these efforts to call for more ambitious action across the SDGs, speakers at the Leaders Summit called for companies to take specific action across a range of issue areas, including on gender equality and inclusivity.
In responding to Ms Ojiambo’s call for business to play a more central role, Martijn van der Ven, CEO and Founder of Athalos, expressed his commitment in reducing inequalities. He shared his thoughts in a high level session on the second day of the Leaders Summit. “With how the world is now, I believe companies are willing to increase their sustainability ambitions, adopt new mindsets and build innovative business models and develop and deploy disruptive technologies. So I am encouraged by this global gathering.”
“It’s never been more important to create shared value. We’re at the greatly different intersection in society to solve problems. And I’m excited by the conversations and actions that I’ve been having over these two days. These conversations present value and insights that companies leaders and governments will need to forge in multi stakeholder collaboration, as we are United Business,” Martijn said.
Other speakers at the event included: Her Excellency Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Climate Finance; Al Gore, Founder and Chairman of The Climate Reality Project; Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General and Deputy Chair of The Elders; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, ECLAC; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union; Roberto Marques, Chief Executive Officer of Natura & Co; Sandra Wu Wen-Hsiu, Chairperson and CEO of Kokusai Kogyo; Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture; Helena Helmersson, CEO of H&M Group; Ilian Mihov, Dean of INSEAD; and Fiona Reynolds, CEO of PRI, amongst others.
About the United Nations Global Compact
As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.
Athalos – We Empower People – One Number, One World
Athalos is a global communication solution provider, offering a unique World Number phone code which is independent of geographical location. The aim of Athalos is empowering people and business, all over the world. Athalos helps people and businesses to communicate globally in an easy, transparant and accessible way via their Global Donation, Global Enterprise and Global Communication Services.
Contact – Athalos
Céline van Aalst: PR and Communications Manager