Introduction

15 years ago, the world looked very different. Globalisation had just kicked off and global investment was skyrocketing. NGOs were calling out corporate misconduct and governments were riding a wave of liberalisation. Google was just a baby and the number of Internet users in the entire world was 413 million, not even close to the size of Facebook in 2015 with 1.44 billion active users.

In this chapter, we start by painting a picture of what the world looked like, in the context of corporate sustainability, when the Global Compact was launched. We then proceed to examine the change we have seen through to the present day.

Changes are observed across three levels (see model on page 19), towards the overarching goal of achieving the vision of a ‘sustainable and inclusive global economy’:

  1. In corporate practices: How have global business practices changed towards deeper integration of sustainability and the Global Compact objectives?
  2. In the corporate operating environment: How have conditions and drivers in the corporate operating environment changed so they are more supportive or enabling of sustainable business practices?
  3. In the dominant worldviews: How has the dominant worldview, our thinking, attitudes, values and beliefs, over the role and responsibility of business changed?

We present in total 16 findings across these three levels, and for each finding we outline the role the Global Compact has played in driving change. To conclude this chapter, we reflect upon the impact that the Global Compact has had since it was launched.

Throughout this chapter you will find ‘Spotlight’ sections where we take a deeper look at specific Global Compact initiatives. Some are focusing on critical issues like climate, water and peace; others look at ways that the Global Compact is engaging with its participants, such as through the Local Networks and LEAD.

Click here to download a larger image of the Global Compact in numbers.