Høyres Hus in Oslo, 6. mai 2015
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Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here today at the Business for Peace Summit 2015. It is encouraging to see you – business leaders from all over the world – discussing how you can contribute to peace and sustainable development. Through investments, job creation and innovation, you have an important role to play.
With the launch of the new Sustainable Development Goals in September and the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December, 2015 is a crucial year for global development. This is the final year of the Millennium Development Goals. Even though we have made great progress, there is still work to be done. As co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group, I always urge stakeholders to do their utmost to advance progress towards achieving the goals. I now urge you to do the same.
We share a common interest in ensuring peaceful, stable societies in which people’s needs are met and sustainable development is encouraged. Societies where both people and business can thrive.
We are searching for common solutions to end poverty, transform economies, and protect our natural environment. Together we must strengthen our focus on sustainable consumption, production, and management of our oceans, forests, fresh water and biodiversity.
However, establishing goals does not in itself lift people out of poverty. Goals must be followed up and combined with coherent policies, investments and financing. Business plays a crucial role, both in economic and social development.
For example, unemployment is a cause of poverty, but it is also a cause of discontent and instability across regions. The world needs 280 million jobs by 2020. Given that the private sector provides nine out of 10 jobs in developing countries, it is obvious that we need you on board.
The Norwegian Government is a strong supporter of the private sector as a key driver for development.
- We have increased the funding for private sector development (by NOK 290 million, to approximately NOK 1.7 billion).
- We are presenting two white papers this year, on private sector development and on globalisation and trade. The white paper on private sector development will address how smart aid can trigger bigger investments from the private sector.
- We have also increased the investment capital of Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, to a total of NOK 1.5 billion. At least half of these funds will be invested in renewable energy initiatives.
New partnerships between governments and business have already helped to make impressive progress towards reaching the MDGs. These will be even more important in our work to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals. Let me mention a few examples:
- Vaccine initiatives such as Gavi and the Global Fund have produced remarkable results, using market mechanisms. Thanks to Gavi, 550 million children have been vaccinated.
- The business community can provide IT solutions that will make education better and more accessible. At the Oslo Summit on Education for Development in July, we will discuss how innovative public–private partnerships can improve the quality of education, and help us reach the 58 million children who are still being denied their right to education.
- Access to energy is essential for improved standards of living and increased employment opportunities. Last summer, I opened a solar plant in Rwanda. Scatec Solar, in partnership with Norfund, its co-investor KLP and developer Gigawatt Global Coöperatief, successfully built the solar plant. The plant will increase Rwanda’s power generation capacity by approximately 8 %.
- In Indonesia, I recently met with business leaders to discuss the shift towards more sustainable palm oil production. It was encouraging to see their will to reverse environmental degradation and build a greener future.
In order to achieve sustainable development, we must focus on vulnerable groups and ensure that no one is left behind. We must focus on equality, on inclusive, job-creating growth, and on business investments, economic transformation and good governance.
This is not achieved through business as usual. It is not simply about making money, but about how you make your money. Being businessworthy is the term that the Business for Peace Foundation has coined. I think this is an excellent concept. It signals the importance of giving something back to society. Not only in terms of philanthropy but also in terms of how you conduct your business. The term underlines the idea that what is good for society is also good for business.
Responsible business conduct is especially demanding where legal frameworks are weak. The Norwegian Government expects all companies to take responsibility for the people, societies and environment affected by their activities. This year we will launch our own National Action Plan on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
International CSR standards are an important tool for safeguarding rights and fundamental values in vulnerable markets. International standards provide harmonised expectations to businesses across borders, and level the playing field. The business community is already making great progress. The UN Global Compact - the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative - has over 8,000 companies and 4,000 non-business participants in over 160 countries.
A favourable investment framework and respect for human rights are key factors for sustainable development. We need good governance that empowers individuals and families, and develops trust between governments, businesses and society. We must work together to build societies in which both people and business can thrive. It gives me great hope and inspiration to see you here today, showing that the business community is on board. We have a shared responsibility to build a sustainable future.