On June 16th, Chairman Ban Ki-moon spoke at the UN Global Compact 20th anniversary Leaders Summit 2020. More than 20,000 sustainability champions attended the summit online, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President of the UN General Assembly, UN Secretary-General and many other national leaders and UN Global Compact staff to discuss the private sector’s response to the current global crisis. Chairman Ban gave an opening speech at this ceremony on “Setting the Climate Ambition as we reimagine the post-COVID world”.
“Now is the time when solidarity based on creative ideas and a mature sense of citizenship are called for more than ever to overcome the pandemic.”
The eruption of the coronavirus has strained the relationships of states, regions and individuals. Business sector is also having difficulties maintaining business consistency due to unstable supply change and restricted mobility. Chairman Ban reiterated that global solidarity is the key to solving global challenges.
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“Whilst COVID-19 demands the world’s attention, we must not forget that the problems faced by humanity prior to the pandemic have not gone away.”
Chairman Ban mentioned 3 threats and injustices that need not be forgotten: violent conflicts, nuclear proliferation and the climate crisis.
“The pandemic is no excuse for inaction on racism or the other existential threats facing humanity.”
He quoted Nelson Mandela’s ““racism is a stain on the human conscience,” referring to the barbaric killing of George Floyd. “All of us need to acknowledge and confront the entrenched attitudes and behaviors that keep black people and other minorities at a permanent disadvantage in our societies,” he claimed. He urged the international system to take action to face the prevailing discrimination and injustice towards minority population around the world.
Though the pandemic is the threat to the eye, we mustn’t forget that those affected by extreme weather conditions are still there. Businesses are main shareholders and stakeholders of climate change. Choosing environment-friendly strategies is possible and even profitable. “Sooner or later, it will be made clear that sustainability is the most effective growth strategy, especially in emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic,” he said with certainty. Industries can steer governments towards climate action. 2020 is a significant momentum in the trend towards green investment, and while governments appear to be shirking their responsibilities under the Paris Agreement, the role of business communities and financial institutions is critical.
He referred to the ‘Green New Deal’ as a hope to kind the solution the triplet crisis – climate crisis, economic crisis, and quarantine crisis – that the humanity face today. The post–COVID era must be invested for our future, not for our past.
Below is the transcript of his speech:
▼ Video of the Summit
Source: United Nations Global Compact Official Youtube Channel
“Setting the Climate Ambition as we reimagine the post COVID world”
You Excellences, Ladies and Gentleman
Thank you for the opportunity to address you on the 20th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations Global Compact. UNGC was founded by my predecessor, Kofi Annan, with the purpose of enhancing corporate citizenship and was also put forth by my office as one of the main initiatives. I would like to applaud all members who have contributed to the mainstreaming of the 10 Principles, founded on the 4 areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and have strived for the corporate sustainability by linking business activities with the SDGs.
I would usually start such a video address by apologising for not being able to join you in person. But in these extraordinary times, such a situation has become very normal.
We find ourselves in uncharted territory, facing life-changing scenarios that would seem unimaginable just months ago.
Many victims have suffered, and the pandemic has strained the relationships of states, regions and individuals. Businesses have also experienced setbacks in maintaining business consistency due to unstable supply chains and restrictions on the mobility of people and logistics.
Now is the time when solidarity based on creative ideas and a mature sense of citizenship are called for more than ever to overcome the pandemic. Recently the global media has portrayed South Korea as an exemplary case, where the efforts are firmly grounded on the principles of ‘transparency’ ‘creativity, and ‘solidarity’.
As for businesses, I believe that common advocacy is required. It is the role of UNGC members to pursue ‘Common Value’ of our time through ‘Common Advocacy’. Global challenges can be resolved only through global solutions based on global solidarity.
Whilst COVID-19 demands the world’s attention, we must not forget that the problems faced by humanity prior to the pandemic have not gone away.
Violent conflicts, nuclear proliferation, the climate crisis: these threats and injustices are still there, and in many senses further exacerbated by the pandemic.
We all need to take action against another terrible pandemic: racism.
Speaking as Deputy Chair of The Elders, the group of independent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, I want to convey our abhorrence of racism in all its forms, and our solidarity with all those fighting for a world free from prejudice.
The barbaric killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has shone a light on pervasive discrimination, prejudice and impunity in the United States.
The global wave of outrage sparked by his death and the violent response to overwhelmingly peaceful protests shows how racism resonates all over the world.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “racism is a stain on the human conscience”.
All of us need to acknowledge and confront the entrenched attitudes and behaviours that keep black people and other minorities at a permanent disadvantage in our societies.
Covid-19 has highlighted how people of colour continue to bear a disproportionate socio-economic burden in health crises which is then exacerbated by systemic oppression and violence from state authorities.
I urge the international system as a whole, including the members of the Global Compact, to do more to acknowledge the discrimination faced by minority populations around the world and advance concrete solutions to further the cause of equality and justice.
The pandemic is no excuse for inaction on racism or the other existential threats facing humanity.
Whilst governments, businesses, civil society and individuals are rightly preoccupied with saving lives and livelihoods, it is crucial to our enduring health and sustainability that we do not neglect the long term challenges we face. Indeed, tackling their causes and consequences as a global community is the only way we will ultimately overcome this pandemic.
Arguably, this need for a joined-up approach is most crucial in relation to climate change.
The climate crisis has been altering the character of our planet and threatening our existence. Those affected by extreme weather conditions continue to be so. Those suffering displacement due to droughts, losing their homes to coastal erosion, and putting their lives on the line to defend their environment, continue to face the realities of the climate emergency every day.
I am very pleased to see that Brianna Fruean will be speaking to you today. The Elders have been working with Brianna and other young climate activists to elevate their call for continued climate action.
Brianna is a witness to the climate emergency in the Pacific. As I am sure you will hear when she speaks, her testimony gives stark clarity to the consequences of climate change. She compels us all to ask: what can I do to help mitigate climate disaster?
The business community has a huge role to play in answering this question.
Businesses must recognise the growing demand of their shareholders and other stakeholders for genuine carbon neutrality strategies across their supply chains. These plans can no longer be confined to the edges of business practices – they must be at the heart of strategic planning, go beyond the bare minimum required by national legislation, and include full and transparent disclosure of climate-related financial risk.
Crucially, this action must be driven by science-based targets as this is an essential way in which corporations can contribute to tackling the climate emergency.
Many leading companies have already shown us that it is both possible and profitable to choose a sustainable emission reduction plan. I am aware that there are 237 companies that have committed to the UNGC “Business Ambition for 1.5°C-Our Only Future” campaign to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
Recently, 155 companies have urged to implement the latest technology and to minimize carbon emission even in the economic aid and recovery efforts for COVID-19. Sooner or later, it will be made clear that sustainability is the most effective growth strategy, especially in emergency situations such as COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, to contribute to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050, the RE100 initiative, is also very promising. It promotes the complete transformation of enterprise energy use to renewable energy, and with the lead of global companies, 235 companies have either already achieved or are striving to achieve their goals.
These are now must-have approaches, vital to building momentum around urgent and ambitious climate action. In this regard, I commend the Global Compact for its leadership.
The business community has an important leadership role here. Not only can it help shape government commitments through its own strategies, but it can also help build a global consensus around mitigation and adaption, at a time when political leaders appear to be shirking their responsibilities under the Paris Agreement.
Ambitious climate action also makes business sense. Many investors increasingly look to avoid exposure to oil and gas sectors, seeking out the possibility of longer-term gains from companies that are driven by clean energy markets.
This trend in green investment has been building significant momentum in recent years.2020 can and must be a point at which this momentum becomes an unstoppable change.
As central banks and global financial institutions begin to pull together the colossal financial packages needed to stimulate a global recovery, we are presented with an unforeseen opportunity to accelerate this shift away from a carbon-based economy.
This could be a once in a lifetime chance to make the kind of economic shift we need in order to keep global temperatures rise under 1.5C. An opportunity to refocus investment, research and employment in green growth and planetary health.
We cannot discuss climate change and the environment without mentioning the Green New Deal. Some people call the current global situation the ‘triplet crises’, referring to the climate crisis, economic crisis and quarantine crisis. I believe we may be able to find the solution to these three crises from the Green New Deal. Through the Green New Deal, we can kill three birds with one stone: responding to climate change, promoting economic growth and mitigating socio-economic inequality through job creation.
I support the recent call of my successor UN Secretary-General António Guterres, that the COVID recovery must prioritise people and the environment. It must invest for our future, not for our past. It must see an end to all fossil fuel subsidies, and fully incorporate climate risk into the financial system. This ambition needs to be agreed between nations, considered in all national policy-making decisions, and borne out in enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC).
To do this requires a new level of multilateral cooperation and political will, something far beyond the ambitions of the pre-COVID world. It requires economic diversification policies in oil-exporting countries, the rapid phase out of fossil fuel subsidies and export financing, and incentives for the large-scale development of renewable energy infrastructure. It requires decision-makers, business leaders, and global citizens to think and act differently without further delay.
Six months ago, such demands would have seemed impossible to many. Detractors would have said we cannot possibly shift an economy at that speed; we cannot ask people to accept such rapid changes. But if the events of 2020 demonstrate something else, it is that it is within our power to take tremendous action when faced with a clear and present danger.
Like COVID-19, the climate crisis is a threat to all of us. And like COVID-19, it requires all of us to be part of the solution.
I urge more businesses to join efforts with UN Global Compact to build a better future
Thank you for this opportunity to address you and I wish you fruitful discussions.