Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s address to the Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, today:
Je tiens tout d’abord à remercier le Président Kabila, ainsi que le Gouvernement et le peuple de la République démocratique du Congo, de leur accueil très chaleureux.
Je suis reconnaissant au Gouvernement d’avoir établi un partenariat avec le Bureau de mon Envoyé spécial pour la région des Grands Lacs et le secrétariat exécutif de la Conférence internationale sur la région des Grands Lacs en vue d’organiser et d’accueillir cette conférence.
Je tiens également à saluer le soutien apporté à cette manifestation par beaucoup d’autres –notamment la Commission de l’Union africaine et les différents organismes du système des Nations Unies présents en RDC.
Mesdames et messieurs, J’ai eu l’honneur de venir en RDC et dans la région des Grands Lacs à plusieurs reprises depuis que je suis Secrétaire général de l’Organisation des Nations Unies.
J’en suis toujours reparti fasciné par l’ampleur des possibilités qu’elle offre. Leur potentiel est immense. On le sait, la région possède d’abondantes ressources naturelles. Mais on sait moins que ses habitants sont très travailleurs.
La succession des conflits et des souffrances les a empêchés de réaliser leur potentiel. Nous savons que pour briser le cycle, il ne suffit pas de régler les problèmes de sécurité. Il faut s’attaquer aux causes profondes.
Pour cela, il est nécessaire de fonder le développement économique et social sur des bases stables. Il faut une bonne gouvernance et un état de droit. Il faut des populations en bonne santé, éduquées et dynamiques. Il faut qu’une chance soit donnée à toutes les femmes et à tous les hommes, et qu’ils puissent occuper des emplois décents.
With that understanding, three years ago, the leaders of 11 States signed the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework. Two years ago, along with two new signatories, the leaders approved a Regional Plan of Action. This included a broad range of initiatives, including the idea for this very conference we are holding today.
Why? Because leaders recognized that peace and development are two sides of the same coin. They understood that the lack of jobs and opportunities creates a breeding ground for conflict — and that conflict itself is the biggest obstacle to human development.
That is why, in 2013, the President of the World Bank — Dr. Jim Yong Kim — and I undertook a first-ever joint visit by a United Nations Secretary-General and World Bank chief. We came to the Great Lakes region, stopping first in the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo] and sending a strong message that peace and development should go hand-in-hand, together.
In 2014, we visited the Sahel region, together. In 2015, last year, the Horn of Africa; in that place, too, we went together. Next month, in March, the President of the World Bank and I, we will embark on the fourth such visit to the Middle East. That may be my last such visit, because this my last year, but I sincerely hope that my successor will continue to embark on these joint visits.
We have joined together today to share ideas and experiences underscoring the importance of attracting private investment, promoting business activity and enhancing regional economic cooperation and integration. I am pleased that the journey leading to this moment was inclusive and entailed extensive consultations with Governments, business leaders, entrepreneurs and civil society organizations. Together, you have begun identifying regional investment opportunities, reviewing the investment climate and beginning a dialogue between public and private sectors on how best to move forward.
We meet at a particularly opportune moment — in the wake of the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This is a very far-reaching, very ambitious blueprint for socioeconomic development adopted by world leaders last year. And the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, again a very ambitious, implementable target. With 17 Sustainable Development Goals — or SDGs — world leaders have pledged to end poverty by 2030 and leave no one behind. But, it will not happen on its own. Everyone must play a part. All of you are critical. It is absolutely vital that investments are aligned to the implementation of these landmark accords.
As we begin, I would like to convey several messages to you. First, to Governments, particularly leaders of Governments of the region, I say: By lending your support to this conference, you are showing your resolve to improve the investment climate. You have also committed to enact policies to help expand the domestic private sector, and to make it possible for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to grow. As you do so, I encourage you to create an environment that ensures business operations and investments are responsible and sustainable and predictable. We know that this is an essential ingredient to long-term economic growth and building trust in societies.
Second, to the African private sector leaders, I say: The people of the Great Lakes region count on you — business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors — to fully contribute to the goal of transforming the region. They look to you to strengthen productive capacity, create decent jobs and livelihoods, improve economic governance and foster inclusive development and shared prosperity. I urge you to ensure that your actions can help realize the Sustainable Development Goals and advance the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
I also urge you, business leaders, to commit to observing responsible business conduct through our United Nations Global Compact initiative. This is a win-win approach for the well-being of society and a company’s bottom line. It is the pathway to peace and stability. That is why the United Nations Global Compact is strengthening its Africa strategy — and I invite business leaders here today to join.
Third, to development partners, I say: I ask you to work to build and enhance the productive capacities of Great Lakes States. Help to integrate the region into international value chains that change the nature of exports from raw materials to value-added exports.
Number four, to global business leaders and investors here today, I say: Join us in building bridges to regional integration that will create larger markets and pools of resources, and deliver generous returns on private investments. We are in the heart of Africa. This region can also be an engine for development and economic growth, building on the progress that has been made over the years. All of you are pivotal to forging that path. With your support, the people of the Great Lakes region will achieve sustainable regional development and sustainable peace.
Thank you for your strong commitment. We have to work together to make this world better for all, so that nobody will be left behind, so that everybody can live together, with human dignity and human rights.