The UN Global Compact - a call to business
Secretary-General, United Nations
“Change does not happen by itself. It must be pursued
with vigour, and by all of society. The sustainable
journey that we need to take is in everybody’s best
interest. Nobody benefits from catastrophic climate
change or rampant unemployment and the social
unrest that comes with it. Prosperous, stable societies
and a healthy planet are the bedrock of political
stability, economic growth and flourishing new
markets. Everyone has a role to play.
The UN Global Compact has brought business to the
table as a key partner. We have seen that responsible
business practices combined with innovation and
collaboration can bring about powerful change.
Now, we need more companies around the world
to commit to sustainability, and take shared
responsibility for achieving a better world.”
Launched in 2000, the Global Compact today includes more than 8,000 business participants from all parts of the world, working to advance corporate sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Participants represent nearly every industry sector and size, and hail equally from developed and developing countries. With over 85 country networks convening companies to act on sustainability issues at the ground level, the Global Compact is truly global and local.
To be sustainable, the Global Compact asks companies to do five things:
- Operate responsibly in line with ten universal principles
- Take strategic actions that support the society around them
- Commit at the highest level of the organisation
- Report annually on their efforts
- Engage locally where they have a presence
The Global Compact places emphasis on the importance of transparency, and asks companies to report annually on their commitment to advance sustainability. To uphold the integrity of the initiative, the Global Compact does remove companies
that do not report.
In addition, the Global Compact has over 4,000 non-business signatories, primarily from civil society, labour, business associations, and academia. They play an important role in contributing to learning and guidance material, participating in dialogue on critical issues, and engaging in on-the-ground partnerships. Importantly, they also help to hold companies accountable to their commitments.
The Global Compact also engages with the drivers of sustainability, including investors, educators, consumers and policymakers. As part of the United Nations, the Global Compact also brings the voice of responsible business to major UN summits and negotiations, and facilitates collaboration between the UN and the private sector.
GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES
The Global Compact helps companies meet their commitments to operate responsibly and support society, whether they are beginning on their sustainability journey or recognised pace-setters.
The initiative undertakes a range of activities at the international and local levels – from raising awareness and developing resources and best practices, to facilitating partnerships and developing action initiatives on critical issues like climate, water and women’s empowerment (see Spotlight sections throughout this report).
Global Compact Local Networks advance corporate sustainability at the grassroots level by helping companies understand what responsible business means within their national context. Organised and run locally, networks are led by business, but
always bring key stakeholders to the table. Through the 88 networks, both local firms and subsidiaries of foreign corporations can make local connections and receive guidance to put their sustainability commitments into action.
Finally, Global Compact sister initiatives - most notably the Principles for Responsible Investment, the Principles for Responsible Management Education, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative and Cities Programme - have been developed
to mobilise key stakeholder groups that have a critical role in the future of corporate sustainability. The Global Compact works with investors, academia and cities in a number of ways, ranging from taking part in global policy discussions to
contributing tools and guidance for their day-to-day operations.