UN Secretary-General Joins Business Leaders in Seoul, Calls for Urgent Action on Poverty, Climate Change and Conflict

Seoul, Korea, Republic of

(Seoul, 19 May 2015) – Speaking at a gathering of Korean business leaders and other stakeholders, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on companies to take action on global sustainability challenges.  With over 500 participants, the Korea Leaders Summit showcased the efforts undertaken by Korean companies to advance two UN priorities – sustainable development and climate change. 

Highlighting the need for urgent action on climate change, the Secretary-General urged Korean companies to lead the way: “I have very high expectations for the private sector to contribute to our global goals,” he said. “Businesses will be pivotal to success on ending poverty and rising to the climate challenge.” Noting the enormous potential of the private sector to make a significant impact on global issues, he called on companies “to do much more to respond to the great issues confronting our planet: poverty, climate change and conflict.”

The Secretary-General praised the work of the Summit host, Global Compact Network Korea, particularly for the establishment of the China-Japan-Korea Roundtable, which he noted as an important forum for dialogue to advance United Nations values of peace and mutual respect. He also welcomed the network’s continued commitment to gender equality, remarking on the noticeable increase in female executive presence in the audience.

The Secretary-General welcomed the Korea launch of Business for Peace (B4P). Seven new companies – many of which have operations in the Kaesung Industrial Complex – joined the global peace-building platform in an effort to strengthen inter-Korean collaboration through economic activities.

Also at the event, the Korean Stock Exchange officially joined the Sustainable Stock Exchange Initiative (SSE), a peer-to-peer learning platform launched in 2009 to integrate environmental, social and governance issues into the work of stock exchanges.

The Korea Leaders Summit was convened to galvanize Korean companies, many of which have extensive global supply chains and operations, to take part in UN priorities.  As the UN is preparing for three global conferences on key issues – financing for development, sustainable development, and climate change – the Secretary-General asked Korean companies to demonstrate leadership on all of these issues. 

Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact joined the Secretary-General at the event, reiterating the critical role that businesses can play in this agenda.  “This is an historic year for the United Nations,” Kell noted. “Now it's time for business to step up and support the United Nations agenda.” 

The event featured two special lectures on private sustainability finance, and breakout sessions on human rights, anti-corruption, environment, and Business for Peace. 


Donna Chung
UN Global Compact