Discours de Sa Majesté la Reine - UN Global Compact Leaders Dinner, Museum of Modern Art, New York

  • 20/09/2013
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UN Global Compact Leaders Dinner, Museum of Modern Art, New York

19/09/2013

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a privilege to speak to you in this beautiful Museum of Modern Art on how to engage the business sector in corporate sustainability. 

It is an opportunity to reflect together upon new ways to further develop or even rethink the fabric of our society, while recognizing the central role of the private sector.  

We are in many ways fortunate to be living in the 21st century. The first years of the new Millennium have resulted in a significant reduction of extreme poverty. We have at our disposal technological capacities that we could only have dreamed of just one generation ago. Our creative spirit and innovation, as well as digital capabilities, are constantly on the rise.

But sadly, tremendous human suffering continues in many places, and inequality and injustice have not disappeared. The natural order on our planet is in jeopardy.

Agreements on a global scale are necessary if we are to achieve global sustainability.

It has become more and more clear that businesses have been taking on a global role, and not just in terms of markets and investment. They now realise that it is in their long-term, material interest to support the rule of law, integrity of the environment, and higher standards of living.

Corporate sustainability based on universal principles is now a global movement. More and more businesses are orienting their operations in a way that advances public good priorities; thereby contributing to building a world with a more human face.

One particular area where renewed progress is possible is the welfare and social well-being of children. Together with UNICEF and Save the Children, the UN Global Compact is advancing the principles of children's rights, so that businesses avoid abuse in the workplace, while actively helping children and families. Closely linked to this is the economic empowerment of women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While I often look at the world through the prism of child welfare, I also inevitably see it through the eyes of my own country.

International cooperation is very important for Belgium. We know how important it is to work together to advance a common cause. We have learned that building bridges between countries and population groups, or social and economic stakeholders, is an effort that pays off in peace and prosperity.  It is therefore only natural that we, too, participate actively in this important work of the United Nations Organization.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The principle of building bridges and working together is one of the features that make this Leadership Summit distinctive. We are charting ways for business, civil society and government to cooperate and collaborate.

Here with us today are many leaders. You belong to an enlightened group that is aware of global priorities and that acts on that awareness. 

Tomorrow, the Secretary General will present an architecture for further scaling up corporate sustainability and aligning business with sustainable development priorities.

Without any doubt, business can be part of the solution. It can help shape and deliver on priorities in global sustainability to an unprecedented extent.  Indeed, it has a major role to play in tackling global challenges, such as climate change, water, food, women's empowerment, children's rights, decent jobs, and education.

The principles of the UN Global Compact have influenced many business leaders worldwide. I urge you to convince other leaders to accept these new principles. Only when we have the absentees on board, will we be successful in our efforts.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude by drawing your attention to the prestigious exhibition here at MOMA on the modern Belgian surrealist artist "Magritte". In particular, I would like to draw your attention to one of his more famous paintings: "The Son of Man".  The painting shows a man in a black overcoat standing in front of a short wall. Beyond the wall is the sea, and a cloudy sky.  His face is obscured by a green apple, but he can just see over the edge of the apple.  The painting invites us to recognize "the visible that is hidden, and the visible that is present". In the same way, I am confident that the many business leaders, who are present in New York for the Summit, will feel invited "to see what is hidden by what we see". I am sure they will excel themselves in implementing the principles of corporate sustainability.  

I thank you.