(New York, 20 September 2013) – Over a thousand CEOs and C-suite executives drawn to New York for the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit are expected to endorse an architecture to engage corporations unveiled by the United Nations Secretary-General this morning. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that Building the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture is designed to “drive and scale up corporate actions to directly advance United Nations goals”.
The plan to link business engagement with global priorities is a milestone in the growth of the UN Global Compact since its founding in 2000, when UN-business ties were scarce, to its current status as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, with the participation of 8,000 companies and 4,000 civil society organizations from 145 countries.
It also comes, the Secretary-General noted in his address, only days before Governments meet at the UN to assess progress on the world’s Millennium Development Goals and plan for follow-through after MDG targets expire in 2015.
Complementing ambitious plans for companies aligning long-term business interests with overall social and environmental progress was the announcement by the Secretary-General of three new platforms for business on education, agriculture and peace.
The portfolio of UN Global Compact programmes also includes issue platforms on women’s empowerment, children’s rights, climate, water and anti-corruption. There are Local Networks organized in 101 nations, with the capacity to act as hubs for country-based sustainability strategies.
A report launched today at the Summit by the UN Global Compact and Accenture found widespread CEO agreement on the strategic nature of sustainability. The vast majority are calling for action by Governments, investors and consumers to unlock the full potential of corporate sustainability.
A panel of chief executives shared views on taking sustainability to a higher level, including: Robert Collymore, CEO of Safaricom Limited; Fu Chengyu, Chairman of Sinopec Group; Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen Fund; Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever; Güler Sabancı, Chairman and Managing Director of Sabanci Holdings; and Dov Seidman, CEO and Founder of LRN.
Responding to the CEO panel were representatives of labour, investors and civil society, respectively: Philip Jennings, General Secretary of the UNI Global Union; Erika Karp, CEO and Founder of Cornerstone Capital, Inc.; and Pierre Sané, President of Imagine Africa International.
Also on the agenda for the 20 September Leaders Summit, which is held every three years, is a Private Sector Forum on Africa.
About the UN Global Compact Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 8,000 corporate signatories in 145 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative. www.unglobalcompact.org
About the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit
Chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013: Architects of a Better World (19-20 September) brings together chief executives with leaders from civil society, Government and the United Nations to unveil a new global architecture for corporate sustainability. As the Millennium Development Goals 2015 deadline approaches, the Summit will set the stage for business to shape and advance the post-2015 development agenda – putting forward an architecture for business to contribute to global priorities, such as climate change, water, food, equality, decent jobs, and education, at unprecedented levels. www.leaderssummit2013.org
An open invitation – Business Engagement Architecture
The Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture is designed as an invitation to organizations, initiatives and networks working globally to engage business on sustainable development to join forces with the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Global Reporting Initiative and other like-minded organizations to promote and support corporate commitments and actions that advance UN goals. This collaboration is based on a common understanding that
i) corporate sustainability strategies must be rooted in respect for universal principles such as those advanced by the UN Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption;
ii) that companies must adopt transparent processes for communicating to their stakeholders, applying standards such as those developed by the Global Reporting Initiative; and
iii) that corporate sustainability initiatives, platforms and networks, while focused on business, should also integrally involve key stakeholder groups.
UN Global Compact Leaders Summit Sets a High-Water Mark for Corporate Engagement on World Priorities
CEOs endorsed a new “architecture of engagement” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the conclusion of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit.
The milestone comes at a time of accelerating alignment by businesses around the world of their core, long-term interests with the success of societies, according to Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.
According to the Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013, released ahead of the Summit, 52 percent of corporate boards participating in the UN Global Compact address corporate sustainability, and 65 percent of CEOs have developed policies and strategies for a more sustainable operation.
Also announced by the UN Secretary-General at the conference – attended by more than 1,000 top executives and representatives from Government, civil society and labour – was the launch of three new issue platforms for business support of education, agriculture, and peace. They complement existing UN Global Compact platforms on children’s rights, women’s empowerment, climate and energy, water, and anti-corruption.
On 19 September, the opening day of the Summit, 30 special events brought leaders together on a wide range of issues.
A new Business Partnership Hub to match businesses with potential partners in order to facilitate collective action in support of UN goals was launched.
At a 20 September UN Private Sector Forum 2013: Africa, chaired by the Secretary-General, businesses announced 25 material commitments to progress on the continent.
Speaking to the press ahead of the Forum, Elias Masilela, CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (South Africa), said that the Global Compact’s new architecture for business engagement is highly suited to the challenges of African business as it moves forward. “At this juncture, the path of the Global Compact needs to be celebrated and embraced,” he said.
At the closing plenary of the Leaders Summit, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told executives: “You have made it clear in the last two days that business is ready to take a major role in advancing UN priorities.
“Now we have a road map,” he said. “The Secretary-General presented a new business engagement architecture. This can be our guide for scaling up and making transformative impact.”