Speaking to more than 200 participants at a ceremony in Yangon, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon chaired the launch of the UN Global Compact in Myanmar today, underscoring heightened interest in corporate responsibility as the country is going through a process of political and economic reforms.
“In order to deliver prosperity and opportunity widely, Myanmar needs strong and inclusive markets,” the Secretary-General said in his keynote remarks to participants, which also included nearly 50 representatives of the international community, including foreign investors. “Business has to be the backbone of growth. However, investment and business activity must be sustainable and responsible – upholding the highest standards of business ethics.”
The meeting with business and government representatives came on the last day of the Secretary-General’s three-day visit to Myanmar. At the event, 14 companies and the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce formally joined the Global Compact in a signing ceremony.
With a core group of companies now committed to the Global Compact principles, the further evolution of the Global Compact, including the establishment of a Global Compact Local Network, will be steered in a collaborative effort between the inaugural signatories, the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar.
“[T]his initiative comes at a most opportune time as Myanmar transitions to a more democratic and inclusive society,” said Dr. Ashok Nigam, that UN Resident Coordinator in Myanmar. “This is a time when the Myanmar people have expectations of increased growth and opportunities, in particular, decent jobs. The role of businesses in meeting these expectations will be critical.”
Following an opening panel addressing the broader environment in Myanmar an introducing the Global Compact, several roundtable discussion addressed specific aspects of corporate responsibility in the country, such as sustainable agriculture, responsible investment, and the role of the government.
About the United Nations Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With nearly 7,000 corporate signatories in 140 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative. unglobalcompact.org