UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged more businesses to embrace the principle of sustainability in their strategies, noting that with most of the world’s ecosystems in decline, widening social inequality and climate change, global prosperity, productivity and stability were at stake.
“We need corporate sustainability to be in the DNA of business culture and operations,” Ban said an address to a business gathering in New York for the “KPMG Summit: Business Perspective for Sustainable Growth.”
He pointed out that corporate sustainability is currently not properly valued, noting that, many proven innovations and solutions from energy efficiency to emissions reductions – are not supported with the right incentives.
He stated: “In fact, incentive structures still tend to encourage unsustainable behaviour. As a result, too many companies limit their sustainability efforts to pilot programmes that never take off’.”
The secretary-general also added that even worse, sustainability becomes more a matter of public relations than how companies operate.
Ban, however, lauded the nearly 7,000 corporations in 140 countries that had joined the UN Global Compact initiative that seeks to foster responsible business practices.
He also stressed the UN’s commitment to supporting companies to carry out their businesses in a sustainable way, citing the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment that embracesby more than 900 institutional investors representing at least US$30 trillion in assets.
He said: “Through the UN-backed `Principles for Responsible Management Education’, over 400 business schools and related institutions are integrating sustainability into curriculum and research.”
The UN chief also said that the recently issued report of his Global Sustainability Panel also provided a blueprint for mainstreaming sustainability.
Ban further highlighted the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, which he said was mobilizing the private sector towards a more accessible, efficient and clean energy economy.
He noted that the more than 400 business leaders had pledged their support for the Caring for Climate initiative designed to advance low-carbon solutions and help make the green economy a reality.
He urged business leaders to advance sustainability through participating in corporate sustainable forums to be held on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable development in Brazil in June