From: Eliane Engeler, Associated Press
Published July 5, 2007 12:00 AM

UN Chief Tells Business Leaders To Do More To Fight Climate Change

GENEVA -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told business leaders Thursday they must do more to reverse climate change.

"Certainly we have made some progress in implementing the Global Compact's principles," Ban told the opening of a U.N.-sponsored summit of corporate leaders, politicians and advocacy groups that have signed on to the so-called Global Compact.

"But it is still uneven," he said.

More than 4,000 business leaders, campaign organizations and others in 116 countries have joined the Global Compact -- established by the U.N. in 2000 to promote human rights, better labor practices, environmental protection and anti-corruption standards for business.

"Financial crises, inequality, unemployment, digital divide -- all these issues are global and the tools too often are unfortunately national or solely administrative," said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. "We need to invent new tools. We need to find new solutions, which inevitably will go beyond or transcend national borders."

Corporations that have signed on were keen to show the initiative is more than a marketing platform.

"Responsibility is a choice, and a global compact allows us business people to make that choice," said Neville Isdell, Chairman and Chief Executive of Coca-Cola, adding that his company has committed itself to replacing the water it uses to make soft drinks.

Coca-Cola's water usage has been raised by shareholders at its annual meetings.

"This is just one example I believe of how business can engage to make a real and positive lasting difference in protecting our freshwater resources, " Isdell said.

Rights group Amnesty International said member companies must go beyond signing a compact.

"Amnesty International would encourage participants to consider a robust peer review mechanism," said Irene Khan, secretary-general of the group. "The best performing companies can help to raise the bar by holding each other to account."

Kahn said international trade and investment agreements had offered business a high level of protection on their global investments that now needed to be extended to human rights.

"I challenge business, and in particular the U.N. global compact, to give the same support to expanding protection for human rights as it has done to ensuring protection of business investment," she said.

The compact's 60-page report said more than half of the participating companies claimed to monitor human rights, but only 16 percent said that they assess the impact changes to their policies had.

Huguette Labelle, who chairs the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, said business must go beyond the corruption policies contained in the Global Compact.

"It's one thing to have a code of conduct," Labelle said. "It's not so easy to implement it in our day-to-day operations."

She noted that the World Bank estimates that up to 5 percent of global gross domestic product is lost to corruption

equal to about $2.5 trillion.


Associated Press Writers Alexander G. Higgins and Frank Jordans contributed to this report.

Source: Associated Press

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