Thursday, July 05, 2007

UN & Business Meet At Global Compact Leaders Summit

Jul 5: The United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged action on climate change and other shared international concerns in an address to the Global Compact Leaders Summit -- a gathering in Geneva of business leaders, government ministers, and heads of civil society groups committed to UN principles. The Summit is taking place from July 5-6. Ban told those assembled from over 90 countries, "This Summit is an important opportunity to take our partnership forward -- in learning as well as action. Over these two days, we must make an honest appraisal of what the Global Compact has achieved, renew our commitments, and chart a courageous course for the next three years."

The Secretary-General stressed the importance of joint actions to address climate change and announced the planned launch of a Business Leadership Platform on "Caring for Climate" -- a joint project with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). He recalled that since the Global Compact was launched in 2000 with 47 companies, it had grown to what is today the world's largest corporate citizenship initiative, consisting of 4,000 stakeholders in 116 countries.

Participants, who are split almost evenly between developed and developing economies, "have taken thousands of actions in support of the Global Compact's ten principles" which relate to the environment and anti-corruption as well as human and labor rights. Ban said, "business is still too often linked with exploitative practices, corruption, income equality and other barriers that discourage innovation and entrepreneurship." He called on representatives from business, trade unions, academia and governments to do their part to ensure the Compact's success, and pledged his full support in this endeavor "so that we fulfill the Global Compact's aspirations and vision."

The Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship by partnering the private sector with other social players to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive global economy. It is not a regulatory instrument but relies instead on what it terms "public accountability, transparency and the enlightened self-interest of companies, labor and civil society to initiate and share substantive action in pursuing the principles upon which the Global Compact is based." The official theme -- Facing Realities: Getting Down to Business -- will be addressed within the initiative's unique multi-stakeholder orientation.

At the Summit, the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), were unveiled to the UN Secretary-General and participants. PRME are a framework for academic institutions to advance the broader cause of corporate social responsibility and a call for the incorporation of universal values in curricula and research. The initiative was developed by an international task force of sixty deans, university presidents and official representatives of leading business schools. It was co-convened by the United Nations Global Compact, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI), and Net Impact.

Also at the Summit, a report released by Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s leading investment banks, showed that among six sectors covered – energy, mining, steel, food, beverages, and media – companies that are considered leaders in implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies to create sustained competitive advantage have outperformed the general stock market by 25 per cent since August 2005. In addition, 72 per cent of these companies have outperformed their peers over the same period.

In advance of the Summit the Global Compact launched the Global Business Leadership Platform on Climate Change and invited all business participants to join by becoming signatories to the statement, “Caring for Climate: The Business Leadership Platform.” A company’s decision to endorse the Statement requires CEO-level support and a significant number of business leaders have expressed their support. A list of company supporters is available (See link below). The statement is based on the principles that there is now a consensus that the climate change agenda will affect business and society in fundamental and transformative ways; the importance of early action is increasingly recognized; and as climate change has become a fundamental issue for society, the need for leadership and voluntary action is becoming ever more urgent.

Access a release from the UN (
click here). Access the Summit website (click here). Access the UN Global Compact website for additional information (click here). Access a release on the PRME (click here). Access a release on the Goldman Sachs report and other reports released at the Summit (click here). Access details on the Caring for Climate statement including the statement, background and list of supporters (click here). [*All, *Climate]