UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon used a speech welcoming the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative to talk about sustainable investment. The full text can be found below.
I am pleased to be here at this world-famous institution. There are few better places than this trading floor for appreciating the realities of global economic activity and investment trends.
The daily index of profit and loss is a measure of the hopes and plans of people from all walks of life – from the wealthiest investors to nurses and teachers looking forward to a comfortable retirement. Shocks here ripple across the world, with grave consequences for the most poor and vulnerable.
That is why I am so pleased to welcome NYSE Euronext to the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. Together, we are exploring how exchanges can work with investors, regulators and companies to enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on environmental, social and corporate governance issues. The goal is to encourage responsible long-term approaches to investment. I commend your commitment to promoting these principles in the global marketplace.
I join you here today because I believe in working for more prosperous and inclusive societies, thriving markets and economies and a greener planet. We cannot achieve these goals without the participation of all. We all need to be shareholders in a sustainable future.
The private sector has a central role. It is essential for creating and diffusing the solutions our world needs. The United Nations is increasingly looking to the private sector to contribute to international development, fight poverty and inequality, create decent employment, especially for youth, and promote environmentally sustainable growth.
With fewer than 1000 days to the 2015 deadline for achieving the millennium development goals, I call on all of you to support this crucial effort to secure our future wellbeing. Investment must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and developmental terms.
Increasingly the global business community hears this message and is responding. Over the past decade, more than 7,500 companies have committed to the United Nations Global Compact. Our aim is to generate a critical mass of socially responsible investors, entrepreneurs and businesses prepared to uphold social and environmental principles, fight corruption, promote gender equality and reject economic exploitation.
I am pleased to see stock exchanges around the world working with investors, companies, regulators and other key stakeholders to encourage long-term thinking and integrate sustainability into investment and financial products.
Since I opened the first Sustainable Stock Exchanges meeting in 2009, eight exchanges have joined, with nearly 13,000 listed companies in developed and emerging markets. The addition of the world’s largest stock exchange to this group is a significant forward step, signalling the importance and relevance of sustainability to the private sector around the world.
But the world will need more exchanges, investors and companies to join forces with governments and civil society if we are to achieve a more equitable, prosperous and sustainable future. The financial crisis made this message abundantly clear.
Responsible and ethical business is essential for rebuilding trust in markets. But the sustainability of global markets goes far beyond governance issues. Sustainable development challenges – from climate change to poverty and inequality – are long-term systemic risks that demand the attention of all.
Increasingly, investors understand that embracing social, economic and environmental responsibility does not mean sacrificing investment returns. Indeed, it promises more stable portfolios.
That is why the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment now has more than 1,200 signatories who collectively manage over $34 trillion in assets. Each has committed to incorporate sustainability into their investment decision-making, ownership practices and engagement with companies.
I thank NYSE Euronext for committing to the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative and I urge stock exchanges around the world to follow your lead. Let us work together to fight poverty, embrace ethical business practices and promote social and environmental sustainability worldwide.
Shortly I will ring the bell to mark the close of another day’s trading. But in my mind, I will be ringing in the future – a future of responsibility for people and the planet, a future without poverty, discrimination and inequality.
By your actions today you have shown that that future can be ours. Thank you.