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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 in its first 100 years.

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 Karien van Gennip and Yassin al-Suroor, and Ajay Banga, our 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 organization, reflecting the world in our leadership and through our deeply committed colleagues – so many of whom have joined us today from near and afar.

In fact, we have some 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 organizations, 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, such as François Georges who retires this year after more than a decade leading ICC France.

Others are more recent additions, such as many of the NC and emerging NC leaders who featured in our first national committee challenge.

The on-going success of our new way of working and our pioneering ways of leading in line with clear values – generous, pioneering, liberated, connected – will cut us apart as an organisation.

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 our heritage brand of ICC, make it relevant in our contemporary context and live up to our historical purpose.

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 global 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, and allowing the spirit of modernity to flow through.

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 recognize 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 this institution with such an important purpose, and I hope that you are too.

With that, I thank you for your attention and for your presence here today.

It means a lot to see your support of ICC as we celebrate our 100th year.

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