UN Secretary-General Highlights Increased Need for Business Engagement in Least Developed Countries

May 9, 2011 12:45 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSrfeed) Istanbul - 9 May 2011 - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the importance of private sector engagement for the development and growth of the world’s poorest countries as he launched the largest Private Sector Track in UN conference history at the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV).

At a high-level luncheon convening 500 Heads of State and Government, chief executives and other top leaders, the Secretary-General highlighted the increased involvement of the business community over the past 10 years since the last LDC conference, held in Brussels in 2001.   “What makes this decade’s conference quite remarkable – indeed historic – is the scale of participation of the business community,” said Secretary-General Ban. “On the supply side, the international community – including multilateral organizations such as the United Nations – has grown to recognize the important role the private sector can and must play in sustainable development.”   The meeting provides a unique opportunity for the private sector to engage in high-level dialogue with government leaders from around the world, by showcasing corporate practices and announcing new partnerships between business and governments in support of development; identifying new, scalable collective action and innovative business models for contributing to development in the LDCs; and highlighting ways in which governments can further facilitate business engagement in LDCs.   The Secretary-General also noted the increased interest by the business community to join in public-private partnerships in order to reduce poverty in the LDCs through job creation and investment in local communities.   “On the demand side, the past decade has seen rising private-sector interest and investment in the LDCs,” he said. “Many companies are here today because of their commitment to business strategies that are designed to generate profits while helping to advance development.” In order to further advance responsible business practice in the LDCs, the Secretary General encouraged corporations to embrace the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative launched by the UN in 2000. He also issued a strong plea for better governance in the LDCs.   “Governments must do everything they can to stamp out corruption and pursue peace,” said Ban. “Doing so will give businesses the confidence to invest for the long-term.”  
Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, called on companies in attendance to generate tangible solutions for helping LDCs to support good governance measures and build productive capacities while incorporating economic, social and environmental values: “The Global Compact stands ready to work with you this week to achieve these goals.”   Other speakers opening the Private Sector Track included Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey; Rizanur Meral, President, Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON); M. Rifat Hisarciklioglu, President, The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB); and Joseph Deiss, President of the UN General Assembly.   UNGC13686