World Economic Forum 2013 - «The sense of responsibility» (en)

Berne, 25.01.2013 - Davos, 25.01.2013 - Discours du Conseiller fédéral Didier Burkhalter à l'occasion du UN Global Compact LEAD Luncheon - Seul le texte prononcé fait foi

Mister Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honor for Switzerland to welcome you again in 2013 to the meeting of the UN Global Compact’s Leaders Group. On behalf of the Swiss Government, I congratulate the Secretary General for his leadership in fostering the Global Compact. I thank the private sector representatives in the LEAD initiative for your engagement and innovations; and last but not least, I congratulate the Global Compact Office for its persistence and dedication in moving the initiative forward.

In the year 2000, the international community agreed for the first time on common objectives– the Millennium Development Goals. This international framework of measurable targets had a powerful effect – the Millennium Goals have become a “global business plan for development”. Therefore the expectations for the new post – 2015 agenda are high – and 2013 marks a significant start for these discussions.

The Rio+20 Conference of 2012 has provided the first and significant contribution. The Rio decisions call for a balance between the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainable development.
In a rapidly changing world that is marked by a high diversity of development processes, new goals will require a global perspective.

These goals will have to be applicable for the developing countries as well as for the developed countries. They must address common international challenges such as climate change, food security, natural resource management and migration.

I therefore strongly encourage the Global Compact participants to play an active role in the ongoing process of shaping the new agenda. Business experience and knowledge contribution are crucial.

Let me start out with four elements of reflection that are particularly relevant in the eyes of the Swiss Government:

First, it is known, that natural resources are limited and need to be protected.  It is also true that our pledge to reduce poverty still remains a challenge. Social and economic inequalities have to be addressed through the improvement of social protection and economic opportunities worldwide. In short, integrating the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainable development have to be in the center of our efforts.

Second, today’s foreign direct investments in the developing countries are four times higher than those on aid spending. This means that we have to move beyond aid alone. Investments will leverage development.

We, as governments, have to provide an enabling and stable environment for development. The private sector plays a crucial role by adopting genuinely inclusive, sustainable and long-term business models.

This means also to address the bottom of the pyramid, work with the local companies, offer opportunities to the youth, to the rural populations and especially to women. 

Third, to advance this agenda, private sector will have to make a step beyond the corporate social responsibility. UN core values must become part of the core business. Firms which integrate these principles into their operating model can truly become a transformative force and enhance their image, which is an important asset - for the future.

My fourth point is, that this can only be done in partnership! The new agenda therefore, will be about Partnership; Partnerships between different countries, between multilateral actors, between governments, private sector, and civil society.
Partnership requires skills, trust, mutual respect, and shared success criteria. Transparency and accountability will therefore be the key goals – for governments, business and civil society alike.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the UN Global Compact and the Lead Group are platforms which give us the opportunity to make a significant progress of the four elements I have just mentioned:
- Sustainable development in its 3 dimensions
- Investments
- Values and
- Partnerships

Switzerland is committed to play an active role in shaping the new “post-2015 framework” including through its participation in the UN Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. Switzerland will also stay active on this ground. The Swiss Parliament adopted a law last year, enabling the government to use 11.3 billion Swiss Francs (nearly 10 billion euro) for the development aid in the coming 4 years. It will represent 1 franc per day and per inhabitant and 0.5% of Swiss Gross National Income by 2015.

In this context the Parliament confirmed that sharing experiences and views with the private sector to build up common positions is an important priority.

The Swiss government carries out an active dialogue with the Swiss UN Global Compact Local Network and, as a convener of the “Group of Friends” of the Compact, we will keep engaging in building a constructive partnership with the private sector.

Mister Secretary General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

2013 is the UN-international year of water cooperation. Switzerland has decided to be specifically active in the domain of water. Water is everywhere and touches everything – And it’s the same for water in its solid form: snow is everywhere and touches everything here in Davos! Water is actually linked with every challenge and every solution on our planet (food, energy, agriculture, health, transportation, the list is long).

Like Water we should let the spirit of partnership infiltrate everywhere in our future development goals and in doing so stimulate every project.
I thank you for your attention and for your commitment, and I look forward to an enriching discussion.


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