Welcome remarks by ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO on the occasion of the International Chamber of Commerce Centenary Summit

Bonjour et bienvenue !

It is my great honour to welcome you to the ICC Centenary Summit, here in Paris, as we come together to celebrate the many years this august institution has worked to promote peace and prosperity through international trade.

I have the distinct privilege, as I have said before, of being the first Australian to lead ICC.

I do this in collaboration with the support and guidance of an outstanding Executive Board and Chairmanship, including our distinguished chair Paul Polman, Vice-Chairs Yassin Al-Suroor and Karien van Gennip, and Ajay Banga, First Vice-Chair, whose daughter’s graduation from Harvard prevented him from joining us in Paris.

Our current Honorary Chair, Sunil Bharti Mittal, is here from India

As are several other Past Chairs of ICC…

Terry Mcgraw from the US,

Victor Fung from Hong Kong,

Gerard Worms of France and

Marcus Wallenberg of Sweden.

We are a truly global business organisation, reflecting the world in our management and through our deeply committed colleagues – so many of whom have joined us today from near and afar.

In fact, we have over 400 people from more than 60 countries in all parts of the world.

Three former Secretaries General of ICC are here – John Danilovich, Maria Cattaui and Jean-Guy Carrier – each of whom helped to mold this great organisation and pursue its founding mission well before my arrival.

We also have esteemed leaders from a range of organisations, some of whom are close partners with ICC while others may fall under what I like to call “new and unusual partnerships”.

Some colleagues here have been a part of the ICC network for many years, like François Georges who retires this year after more than a decade leading ICC France.

Others are more recent additions, such as many of the colleagues within our first national committee challenge.

The on-going success of this new way of working and our other business challenges in Paris demonstrate that the younger among us can be a driving force within ICC as well.

My friends, it is an exciting time to be a part of ICC, whether you are based in Paris or Panama, Sao Paolo or Singapore.

As we sit here in this renovated auditorium of a 19th century French villa, we have an opportunity today to discuss how we will modernise the heritage brand that is ICC to achieve its mission.

We have started this important work, and I believe we have an ambitious organisational transformation underway that will propel us into the next 100 years as a driving force for positive change.

We do this work to answer the call from business and from citizens for a new type of leadership – one that rises to meet the expectations of society, demanding we address with urgency the pressing challenges we collectively face.

We do this also because we know that any organisation that wishes to endure must ensure it evolves with the times, reinvigorating its purpose in line with contemporary and future needs.

In that spirit, ICC’s reformed purpose to enable business worldwide to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all is our commitment that we will continue to pioneer in this 21st century as we did in the last century.

We will leverage our knowledge, resources and global network to help build thriving business environments conducive to growth and innovation.

And we will commit to supporting more inclusive and sustainable communities because we know that it is the right thing to do.

But also because we recognise that broad-based growth and innovation are more possible when built on this strong foundation.

Our commitment to these principles is based in our understanding that global challenges have local impact.

Preserving a fit-for-purpose global trading system is not a niche issue detached from our daily experiences.

It is a fundamental business issue relevant to the lives of everyday citizens everywhere.

Taking serious and bold action to mitigate climate change is an urgent business issue.

Ending modern slavery so that workers around the world can earn a meaningful wage with dignity is a business issue.

How we respond to these and other challenges of our time will determine the mark we, as one ICC leave on this century.

Our collaboration with the many partners represented here today is vital to bringing business together with government and civil society to co-create the solutions to our common problems.

So I am inspired and emboldened by the opportunities we have to lead with purpose, and I hope that you are too.

With that, I thank you for listening and for being here today to support ICC as we celebrate our 100th year.