Message by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit
1 June 2022
I am pleased to greet the 2022 United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit.
This event brings together business, government, and civil society, together with international organizations to reflect on challenges, share solutions and commit to actions.
We face the most perilous geopolitical landscape in decades.
The war in Ukraine is causing massive destruction, death, and suffering – and inflaming a three-dimensional crisis across food, energy, and finance with devastating impacts on the most vulnerable people and economies.
All this comes at a time when developing countries are already struggling with a cascade of challenges – from the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency to escalating inequalities and insufficient resources for recovery.
Meanwhile, the triple planetary crisis – climate change, pollution, and catastrophic biodiversity loss – is disrupting lives and destroying livelihoods.
Close to half of humanity is already in the climate danger zone – 15 times more likely to die from extreme heat, floods, drought and other climate disasters.
There is a 50:50 chance that annual average global temperatures will temporarily breach the Paris Agreement limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius – within the next five years.
We need to change course – and fast.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development remains our compass – but we need all hands-on deck.
Businesses need to put sustainability at the heart of their decision-making for the sake of humanity and their own bottom line.
In practice, this means: no new coal; stop all coal financing; shift subsidies from fossil fuel to support vulnerable families and advance renewable energy; and stop the expansion of oil and gas exploration.
We must also speed up the decarbonization of major sectors – from shipping and aviation to steel and cement.
But even the most ambitious actions to slash emissions this decade will not erase the fact that the situation is already bad – in many cases and places, irreversibly so.
That is why adaptation and mitigation must be pursued with equal urgency.
We need enormous increases in finance – public, blended, and private.
And we are seeing a great expansion of sustainable finance in global markets – but more credibility and accountability are needed to ensure this translates into real-world impact.
We are also seeing many private-sector commitments to net-zero, but these plans must be credible, transparent, and deliver concrete emission reductions this decade.
That is why I established a High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments of Non-State Entities to deliver clear standards for decarbonization in the private sector.
I also welcome the new Communication on Progress that the Global Compact is rolling out this year which will strengthen its ability to track business action around the Sustainable Development Goals.
And I am encouraged that the Compact keeps growing in size and scope – most recently expanding its footprint in Africa.
Whatever the size of your business, whatever the industry in which you are – the time for bold action is now.
You are here today because of the commitments you have made.
Commitments to net-zero emissions and sustainability.
To the 10 Principles of the Global Compact – from supporting human rights and labor to the environment and the fight against corruption.
Commitments to gender equality, to closing the gender pay gap – and to paying a living wage.
Commitments that must be fit for purpose to help overcome the challenges that developing countries are facing.
Taken together, these commitments provide a pathway to business that is sustainable, inclusive, constructive, green, resilient, and long-term profitable.
With the support of the Global Compact, the United Nations is helping transform the global economy to keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals – and thereby transform our world.
Together, we can meet the tests of our time – and create a better future for all.