Speech by Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator: Social Responsibility Forum organized by Deputy Prime Ministers' Office of Mongolia

07 Nov 2013

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SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FORUM

Organised by the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office

Government of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, 7 November 2013

Message by Ms. Sezin Sinanoglu, UNDP Resident Representative

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister

Ladies and gentlemen

Let me start by congratulating the Deputy Prime Minister for organizing this important forum on Social Responsibility and thank him for inviting me to say a few words.

Mongolia has achieved significant economic growth. We can see improvements in the lives and livelihoods of many people around the country. Child and maternal mortality rates and school enrolment, for example, have shown great progress. Roads, homes and schools are being built and the country is much more prosperous than before.

But, Mongolia continues to face development challenges. More than one-fourth of the population continue to live below the national poverty line. Quality and access to key basic services have not fully kept up with the pace of progress. Climate change continues to impact the environment. Most importantly, there are increasing inequalities among between rural and urban areas, between different districts in a city, between regions, between different groups of people.  All of these point to challenges in inclusive and sustainable growth.

The Government has a key role in addressing these challenges. But the Government cannot and should not have to do it alone. Everyone in this country has a stake and a role in Mongolia’s journey towards high human development. Every citizen, every company, every organization has a role in tackling the development challenges of the country as they also have the right to enjoy the fruits of success.

And this is what social responsibility means! Social responsibility is acknowledging that everyone in the country is an agent for development and taking on the responsibility to do their part in solving the challenges. 

The most obvious actor for social responsibility is the civil society. In helping organize individual concerns, in giving voice to key policy issues, in providing basic services to vulnerable groups and in monitoring progress of national commitments, the civil society is a natural outlet for exercising social responsibility and has a key role in achieving sustainable human development. For them to be able to exercise this role effectively and responsibly, the UN works with the civil society both as a partner in its development projects and as a beneficiary to help build their capacity. 

Another important actor for social responsibility is the private sector. The UN believes that the private sector and entrepreneurship are key to economic growth and employment generation, which in turn alleviate poverty and redistribute wealth. Whether it is through responsible and accountable business practices that respect and abide by the principles of human and labor rights, or by focusing on environmental sustainability and fighting corruption, private sector also has a role in supporting the broader goals of human development.

The UN has established a Global Compact with the Private Sector with the common goal of poverty eradication. Many global companies have signed up to this Compact and have expressed their commitment to reduce poverty and improve human development around the world. I would like to thank all the 170 Mongolian Global Compact companies that signed up to demonstrate their commitment to corporate social responsibility. This is clear demonstration of their interest to invest in sustainable human development for the long term progress of Mongolia.

Now let me dwell upon the less obvious but most important actor: us, every one of us as an individual. We, every single one of us holds the key to development. Rich - poor, man - woman, old - young, herder – city dweller. We can all lead by example. We can choose to care about development and we can choose to actively engage in it. Our attitude and aspiration is what forms our society. We are what make up the government, the companies the organizations and the families. We have a voice, we have our will and our energy to make things happen. We can move mountains if we take ownership of issues, ownership of our communities, ownership of ourselves. We do not only benefit from development, we contribute to development. Realizing this and actively engaging in development is our social responsibility.

Living healthy and responsible lives, voting at elections, volunteering to help others, participating in civil society activities, cleaning up your trash after a picnic, driving carefully and respectfully, refusing to pay bribes – all of these are acts of social responsibility. All of these are our responsibility.

The rapidly growing mining sector and its ripple effects throughout the Mongolian economy present an excellent opportunity for further development of the country. The challenge is to convert this unique opportunity to poverty reduction, wide-spread employment opportunities and equitable human development without creating irreparable damages to the environment or the Mongolian way of life.

Building a socially responsible society is certainly a part of the solution. We, the UN, are committed to working with all of you to make this happen and for an even greater and more developed Mongolia.

I wish you all a successful Forum.