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Speech delivered on "The 4th International congress of corporate social responsibility" in Mahak

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·        Distinguished participants,

·        Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Slide 1 – Welcome

·        I am the UN Resident Coordinator here in the Islamic Republic of Iran and I’ve worked in Iran for four years now.  During this time, I have had the pleasure of seeing much of the great work that’s been done by Mahak and so I feel very honored and privileged to be here today for the second time.

·        Since last time I was here in 2015, I have witnessed the interest in Corporate Social Responsibility growing in the business community and I am glad to see that in the 2 years since I was first here, a much larger group of partners is now involved in the organization of this congress.  I am especially happy to see that Iranian Universities are also getting involved in CSR discussion. 

Slide 2 – Outline

·        Today I would like to speak with you about the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the importance of the private sector – and Corporate Social Responsibility – in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  

·        Then I would like to share the UN has integrated the SDGs into its own operations here in Iran. 

·        Finally, I will suggest how you – the business community – can help the achievement of the SDGs in Iran.

Slide 3 – SDGs in English

·        I was very glad to see that the topic of this year’s MAHAK congress is “Civil Society Initiatives” and I would like to introduce to you one particularly important part of this global initiative. 

·        It is called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Slide 4 – SDGs in Persian

·        Although the 2030 Agenda was spearheaded by the UN, it is a global plan.  It is an agenda for everyone.  One in which all countries are – really – developing countries.  Frankly, it is our only real plan to produce a future for our fragile, endangered planet which is sustainable.  When the 193 Member States of the UN signed up to this plan in October 2015, what we made was a covenant with the future.  We need to succeed with THIS PLAN.

·        There can be no Plan B – because we have no Planet B.

·        So, what are these goals?  The 17 goals apply to all countries and all people.  Together, they aim to eradicate poverty, fight inequality, build peaceful, inclusive, and resilient societies, and secure the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations.

·        Taken together, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs, represent a shared vision for the future of humanity.

·        I am also happy to say that the Iranian Government which was fully engaged in the development process of the SDGs, has endorsed these goals with open arms.  More than this, Iran will submit its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) in the upcoming high-Level Political Forum at the UN in New York in July 2017.

·        And today I was so excited to see that for this Congress our organizers decided to use these now-universally-known logos on your invitations and banners.

·        For us all to succeed, another important group that must embrace the SDGs is the private sector.

·        The great thing about the SDGs is that although they represent key goals – they all overlap.  They really cannot be seen in isolation. 

·        We are hearing that a number of companies have already incorporated the SDGs into their corporate mission statement.  They do this because they believe that future business success will depend on being inclusive and sustainable.

 

·        We have to put the SDGs at the heart of the world’s economic strategy.  

 

·        Last month, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission revealed that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. This is promising.

Slide 5 – Private sector across the world and the SDGs

·        The graph onscreen, which I received from our colleagues in the UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD) shows the responses from 986 businesses which responded to the survey.

·        Here are the results.

o   92% of the businesses who participated in the survey said that they are aware of these goals

o   72% said that they are planning to take action to join this global movement

o   almost 30% said that they are aligning their goals with the SDGs

o   (Note: The surveys for this graph were promoted through social media and shared with PwC clients, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) members and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) members.)

 

·        Let’s look at the work of MAHAK.  You are a society that supports children suffering from cancer (SDG3 – Health) – but your work highlights the importance of entirely eliminating dangerous toxins (SDG6) that are generated due to unsustainable production of goods (SDG12).

·        Also think of SDG7 affordable and clean energy. How does your company’s energy sources contribute to achieving SDG7 (affordable, sustainable energy)?

·        Ladies and gentlemen, we are no longer in a position to choose pure profit.  Our growth must be inclusive.  Our development must be sustainable.  And our environment must be safeguarded.   How the private sector actually does business has a major impact on whether growth and development are inclusive and sustainable.

·        These ideas were what drove the UN to create the UN’s Global Compact in the year 2000.  The Global Compact brings together business, governments, civil society and UN agencies to advance universal principles in the areas of environment, labour, human rights and anti-corruption.  This initiative is the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship pact.  At present, over 12,200 companies from over one hundred countries participate.  CSR is at the very center of our Global Compact.  

·        But there are hardly any Iranian companies represented in the Global Compact – There are only 6 members from Iran, 4 Companies and 2 NGOs which one – I am delighted to say – is MAHAK.

·        The time has come for this to change.

·        In 2017, the Global Compact will offer an extensive toolbox – including best practice resources, executive briefings, new action platforms and events – designed for companies anywhere along their sustainability journey, from beginners to leaders.  

·        I hope you will have a look at their website and see how you can “Make Global Goals Local Business”.

·        Furthermore, there are plenty of examples of companies that have committed to business models that are inclusive and profitable at the same time.  To illustrate, UNDP hosts a platform with more than 170 companies that have made pledges through the Business Call to Action (BCtA) – a global alliance.  They have undertaken to produce affordable goods and services, generate more jobs, and integrate low-income producers into their value chains as suppliers.

·        We need to understand that investing in SDGs is a win-win case.  It is not only for ethical or ideological reasons the private sector is aligning their visions and practices with sustainable development, it is also profitable and there is a clear business case.

Slide 6 – UN and UNDAF

·        Here in Iran, the UN – as an organization – has fully aligned its goals both with the Government’s now-approved 6th Five-Year National Development Plan and also the SDGs.  

·        We have integrated the SDGs in our planning through our United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF 2017- 2021.  This framework was prepared in full agreement with the Government of Iran.

·        The UNDAF has 4 main priorities:

o   Environment,

o   Health,

o   Resilient Economy and

o   Drug Control.

·        As you can see onscreen, the SDGs have been deeply integrated in this framework and we cover all 17 goals at least once in our 4 priorities.

Slide 7 – UNDP

·        As some of you might know, aside from being the UN Resident Coordinator, I am also the head of UNDP in Iran and would like to give you some examples where businesses have contributed to our projects as part their own CSR activities.  We greatly appreciate and always welcome such support.

 

o   Dana Insurance: The agreement between UNDP and Dana Insurance Company has produced a unique form of insurance coverage.  One which mitigates threats to our highly-endangered Asiatic cheetahs by providing much-needed funding for the implementation of critical aspects of the project’s work-plan activities.  Dana has been with us on this project since 2015 and last October for the second time made a generous donation.

§  (SDG 15 – life on land and SDG 17 - partnerships)

 

o   Damdaran: Worked in collaboration with our Small Grant Projects (SGP) at UNDP in partnership with Department of Environment and Iran Wildlife Center, a local NGO that focuses of wildlife education.  Our partnership promotes selection of children’s games focusing on ecosystems in Iran and their wildlife.  

§  (SDG 4, SDG 14, SDG 15 and SDG 17)

Slide 8 – What can you do?

·        So, you may be wondering, “How can I contribute”?

·        Learn about the SDGs, educate yourselves and the people around you on all 17 goals.

·        Look at your own operations and see where you can make changes and modifications to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.

·        Look at your CSR activities as an investment in the future of your company and community. Make sure your priorities have a positive influence.  If you’re not sure, you can always look to the SDGs – as a roadmap for inspiration.

·        Create partnerships (SDG 17). Work as a team, Combine your efforts and contributions in each sector. Work with your associations and unions to set sector wide standards. Instead of individual investments bring your capital together and invest in greater projects.

·        The United Nations Country Team will also be working alongside you to give technical assistance, where needed and to collaborate with the government of Iran and the private sector in projects to implement the SDGs in Iran.

·        As I move to conclude, I would like to say that all of the UN agencies in Iran are doing their part to give life to the SDGs in Iran.  I am delighted to share that one of our most dynamic and dedicated colleagues – the head of WHO (Dr. Sameen Siddiqi) will be sharing his ideas on Corporate Social Responsibility.  Like you, I am eager to hear what I am sure will be inspiring words for us all.

·        Finally, I would like to, once again, thank the organizers for giving the UN this opportunity to share in this important biennial event.  I very much hope when you all gather here again for the 11th MAHAK CSR Congress in 2031 – after we have done our best to achieve the 2030 Agenda – you can all say you played your part to make your local communities – your cities – your country – and indeed our entire planet a better place – one in which we and our children can live safer, healthier and more empowered lives.

·        Thank you all.

 

Slide 9 – Thank you

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

 

1 – Welcome

I am the UN Resident Coordinator here in the Islamic Republic of Iran and I’ve worked in Iran for four years now.  During this time, I have had the pleasure of seeing much of the great work that’s been done by Mahak and so I feel very honored and privileged to be here today for the second time.

Since last time I was here in 2015, I have witnessed the interest in Corporate Social Responsibility growing in the business community and I am glad to see that in the 2 years since I was first here, a much larger group of partners is now involved in the organization of this congress.  I am especially happy to see that Iranian Universities are also getting involved in CSR discussion. 

 

2 – Outline

Today I would like to speak with you about the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the importance of the private sector – and Corporate Social Responsibility – in achieving the 2030 Agenda.  

Then I would like to share the UN has integrated the SDGs into its own operations here in Iran. 

Finally, I will suggest how you can help the achievement of the goals in Iran.

 

3 – SDGs

I was very glad to see that the topic of this year’s MAHAK congress is “Civil Society Initiatives” and I would like to introduce to you a global initiative called the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

4 – SDGs in Persian

Although the 2030 Agenda was spearheaded by the UN, it is a global plan.  It is an agenda for everyone.  One in which all countries are – really – developing countries.  Frankly, it is our only real plan to produce a future for our fragile, endangered planet which is sustainable.  When the 193 Member States of the UN signed up to this plan we made a covenant with the future.  We need to succeed with THIS PLAN. 

There can be no Plan B – because we have no Planet B.

So, what are these goals?  The 17 goals apply to all countries and all people.  Together, they aim to eradicate poverty, fight inequality, build peaceful, inclusive, and resilient societies, and secure the future of the planet and the wellbeing of future generations.

Taken together, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs, represent a shared vision for the future of humanity.

I am also happy to say that the Iranian Government which was fully engaged in the development process of the SDGs, has endorsed these goals with open arms.  More than this, Iran will submit its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) in the upcoming high-Level Political Forum in New York in July 2017.

I was even excited to see that for this Congress you decided to use these now-universally-known logos on your invitations and banners.

For us to succeed, another group that must embrace the importance and relevance of the SDGs is the private sector.

The great thing about the SDGs is that although they represent key goals – they all overlap.  They really cannot be seen in isolation. 

We are hearing that a number of companies have already incorporated the SDGs into their corporate mission statement.  They do this because they believe that future business success will depend on being inclusive and sustainable.

 

We have to put the SDGs at the heart of the world’s economic strategy.  

 

Last month, the Business & Sustainable Development Commission revealed that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. This is promising.

 

Let’s look at the work of MAHAK.  You are a society that supports children suffering from cancer (SDG3 – Health) – but your work highlights the importance of entirely eliminating some aspects of production like the toxic materials, the waste and the pollutants (SDG6) that are generated due to unsustainable production of goods (SDG12).

This interlinkage of SDGs is relevant for all private sector actions.  For example, we are all here today because through your operations you know that you impact SDG 3, which is health.  By controlling your air and waste outputs you directly impact the health of your communities around you.

Also think of SDG7 affordable and clean energy. How does your choice of energy sources contribute to achieving SDG7.

Another important one for Iran is SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation.  Are you managing your use of water for your production processes sustainably?

Ladies and gentlemen, we are no longer in a position to choose pure profit.  Our growth must be inclusive. Our development must be sustainable. And our environment must be safeguarded.  And how the private sector actually does business has a major impact on whether growth and development are inclusive and sustainable.

These ideas were what drove former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to create the UN’s Global Compact in the year 2000.  The Global Compact brings together business, governments, civil society and UN agencies to advance universal principles in the areas of environment, labour, human rights and anti-corruption.  This initiative is the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship pact.  At present, over 12,200 companies from over one hundred countries participate.  CSR is at the very center of our Global Compact.  

But there are hardly any Iranian companies represented in the Global Compact – There are only 6 members from Iran, 4 Companies and 2 NGOs which one – I am delighted to say – is MAHAK.

The time has come for this to change.

In 2017, the Global Compact will offer an extensive toolbox – including best practice resources, executive briefings, new action platforms and events – designed for companies anywhere along their sustainability journey, from beginners to leaders.  

I hope you will have a look at their website and see how you can “Make Global Goals Local Business”.

Furthermore, there are plenty of examples of companies that have committed to business models that are inclusive and profitable at the same time.  To illustrate, UNDP hosts a platform with more than 170 companies that have made pledges through the Business Call to Action (BCtA) – a global alliance.  They have undertaken to produce affordable goods and services, generate more jobs, and integrate low-income producers into their value chains as suppliers.

We need to understand that investing in SDGs is a win-win case.  It is not only for ethical or ideological reasons the private sector is aligning their visions and practices with sustainable development, it is also profitable and there is a clear business case.

 

5 – Private sector across the world and the SDGs

This graph, which I received from our colleagues in the UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD) shows the responses from 986 businesses which responded to the survey.

Here are the results.

·         92% of the businesses who participated in the survey said that they are aware of these goals

·         72% said that they are planning to take action to join this global movement

·         almost 30% said that they are aligning their goals with the SDGs

(Note: The surveys for this graph were promoted through social media and shared with PwC clients, United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) members and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) members.)

 

6 – UN and UNDAF

Here in Iran, the UN – as an organization – has fully aligned its goals both with the Government’s now-approved 6th Five-Year National Development Plan and also the SDGs.  

We have integrated the SDGs in our planning through our United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF 2017- 2021.  This framework was prepared in full agreement with the Government of Iran.

The UNDAF has 4 main sections:

·         Environment,

·         Health,

·         Resilient Economy and

·         Drug Control.

As you can see, the SDGs have been deeply integrated in this framework and we cover all 17 goals.

 

7 – UNDP

As some of you might know, aside from being the UN Resident Coordinator, I am also the head of UNDP in Iran and would like to give you some examples where businesses have contributed to our projects as part their own CSR activities.  We greatly appreciate and always welcome such support.

·         Dana Insurance: The agreement between UNDP and Dana Insurance Company has produced a form of insurance coverage provided by Dana which mitigates threats to our highly-endangered Asiatic cheetahs by providing much-needed funding for the implementation of critical aspects of the project’s work-plan activities.  Dana has been with us on this project since 2015 and last October for the second time made a generous donation. (SDG 15 – life on land and SDG 17 - partnerships)

 

·         Damdaran: Worked in collaboration with our Small Grant Projects (SGP) at UNDP in partnership with Department of Environment and Iran Wildlife Center, a local NGO that focuses of wildlife education, to make and promote a selection of 6 puzzle from different ecosystems in Iran and their wildlife.  (SDG 4, SDG 14, SDG 15 and SDG 17)

 

8 – What can you do?

So, you may be wondering, “How can I contribute”?

1.       Learn about the SDGs, educate yourselves and the people around you on all 17 goals.

 

2.       Look at your own operations and see where you can make changes and modifications to contribute to the implementation of the SDGs.

 

3.       Look at your CSR activities as an investment in the future of your company and community. Make sure your priorities have a positive influence, if not sure, you can always look to the SDGs.

 

4.       Create partnerships (SDG 17). Work as a team, Combine your efforts and contributions in each sector. Work with your associations and unions to set sector wide standards. Instead of individual investments bring your capital together and invest in greater projects.

-          The United Nations Country Team will also be working alongside you to give technical assistance, where needed and to collaborate with the government of Iran and the private sector in projects to implement the SDGs in Iran.

As I move to conclude, I would like to say that all of the UN agencies in Iran are doing their part to give life to the SDGs in Iran.  I am delighted to share that two of our most dedicated colleagues – the heads of WHO (Dr. Sameen Siddiqi) and WFP (Mrs. Negar Gerami) will be sharing their ideas on Corporate Social Responsibility.  Like you, I am eager to hear what I am sure will be inspiring words for us all.

Finally, I would like to once again thank the organizers for giving the UN this opportunity to share in this important annual event.  I very much hope when you all gather here again for the MAHAK CSR Congress in 2031 – after we have done our best to achieve the 2030 Agenda – you can all say you played your part to make your local communities – your cities – your country – and indeed our planet a better place – one in which we and our children can live safer, healthier and more empowered lives.

Thank you all.

 

9 – Thank you

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Speech delivered on "Ending violence against women and girls"

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Sexual and gender-based violence is the most extreme form of the global and systemic inequality experienced by women and girls.

It knows no geographic – or socio-economic – or cultural boundaries.

Worldwide, one in three women will suffer physical or sexual violence at some point in her life.  This extends from rape and domestic violence to harassment at work.

Here are some examples:

  • In the year 2014, more than 200 girls were kidnapped and systematically abused – including sexually – in Nigeria.
  • Recently, we have seen graphic testimony from Iraqi women survivors of rape and systemic sexual slavery, during – and after – conflict.
  • In many so-called developed countries, over the past several years, there have been high-profile cases of sexual violence on sports teams and on university campuses.
  • Like all other countries in the world, gender-based violence also happens here, in Iran. 

Women and girls experience violence in all countries and in all neighborhoods.

But these crimes often remain unreported and hidden – sometimes because women survivors choose to remain silent. 

Why? 

Because they fear stigmatization and shame within their homes and communities.  Their claims are often dismissed.  They feel they have no-one to turn to who will respect their dignity.

We must end this silence.

Everyone has a responsibility to prevent and to end violence against women and girls.

This has to start by our challenging the pervasive culture of discrimination against women and girls – in all countries – that allows violence to continue.

We must shatter negative gender stereotypes and attitudes.

We must introduce and implement laws to prevent discrimination and end exploitation.

That is why the United Nations is happy to note that the Bill to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls in Iran is in the process of being finalized for submission to the Majlis

This shows the commitment of the Islamic Republic of Iran to address and resolve this issue.

But laws alone are not enough.  We as individuals, must do more.

We must all – especially men – stand up against abusive behavior whenever we see it.  We must say:

  • “I do not agree with this. 
  • I will not support such action. 
  • It is wrong.”

We must risk criticism for standing out from the crowd.

We must condemn all acts of violence.

We must establish equality with women in our work lives.  And our home lives. 

We must change the everyday experiences of women and girls. 

Women’s rights were once thought of as women’s business only.  But, more and more, men and boys are becoming true partners – true allies – in the battle for women’s empowerment.  This must continue.  And it must expand.

Respect for the dignity of all human beings – which Ayatollah Moghagheq Damad just spoke about a few minutes ago – is inherent in the universal standards and norms of the United Nations.  The United Nations is the custodian of the CEDAW – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  Therefore, it goes without saying that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation – as both Vice President Mowlaverdi and Ayatollah Damad have said this morning in their own interventions. 

It is also a public health problem.  

And it is a serious obstacle to sustainable development.

I was delighted to see Vice President Mowlaverdi speak so passionately about the Sustainable Development Goals.  As you know back in September 2015, at the United Nations HQ, all countries – including Iran – adopted the 2030 Agenda which contains the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  

SDG-5’s aim is very simple: to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.  Empowering our women strengthens one half of the population of each country. 

I am pleased that, along with many other countries, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to prepare and share its Voluntary National Report on SDG achievement – including on SDG-5 achievement – at the UN in July this year.  The UN will support this effort.

But the UN also supports in other ways.  This is my first public speech in the new calendar year 2017.  A few days ago, at the start of 2017, our new UN Development Assistance Framework for work in Iran commenced.  Our 4 priority areas are: environment, health, resilient economy and drug control.  In every single one of these pillars, the UN will be undertaking programmes which will empower women.

Before closing, I would like to take a moment to thank the National Union of Iran’s Bar Associations.  All the universities.  All the organizations which have supported this important event.  You are indeed what Ayatollah Damad has called “supporters of justice”.         

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I end by saying that we all have a role to play in ending violence against women.  And I urge everyone in this room – as well as those beyond this room who hear our words today – to play your part in protecting women and girls from discrimination and violence.

If we stand together in our homes – in our communities – our countries and across the world – we can challenge discrimination. 

We can end impunity, that is still far too prevalent on our planet.

We can put a stop to the mindset and the customs that encourage – or ignore – or tolerate the global disgrace which is called “violence against women and girls”.

Thank you.

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