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United Nations Global Compact

The United Nations Global Compact is a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General that align the operations and strategies of global companies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
United Nations Global Compact
Leadership team

Sanda Ojiambo (Assistant Secretary-General and CEO)

Melissa Powell (Chief of Staff)

Sue Allchurch (Chief, Outreach & Engagement)

Ole Lund Hansen (Chief, Global Operations)

Lila Karbassi (Chief, Programmes)

Alex Stein (Managing Director, Foundation for the Global Compact)

Olajobi Makinwa (Chief, Intergovernmental Relations & Africa)

Dan Thomas (Communications & Strategic Events)

Headquarters
UN Headquarters, New York, NY 10017, US
Region served
worldwide
Year stablished
2000
Address
UN Headquarters, New York, NY 10017, US
Social Media
Summary

The United Nations Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to get businesses and firms worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. 

The organisation solicits commitments to specific sustainability and social responsibility goals from CEOs and highest-level executives, and in turn offers training, peer-networks and a functional framework for responsibility. The organisation consists of a global agency, and local "networks" or agencies for each participating country. 

The UN Global Compact is a principle-based framework for businesses, stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labor groups and civil society. Cities can join the Global Compact through the Cities Programme.

The UN Global Compact is the world's largest corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility initiative, with 13000 corporate participants and other stakeholders over 170 countries.

The declared objectives of the participants and stakeholders are to "mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world" and to "catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)". Moving forward, the UN Global Compact and its signatories are deeply invested and enthusiastic about supporting work towards the SDGs.

The UN Global Compact was announced by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in an address to the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, and was officially launched at UN Headquarters in New York City on 26 July 2000. The Global Compact Office works on the basis of a mandate set out by the UN General Assembly as an organization that “promotes responsible business practices and UN values among the global business community and the UN System.” 

The UN Global Compact is a founding member of the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative along with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).


History

The first Global Compact Leaders' Summit, chaired by the then Secretary-General Kofi Annan, was held in UN Headquarters in New York on 24 June 2004, to bring "intensified international focus and increased momentum" to the UN Global Compact. 

The second Global Compact Leaders Summit, chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was held on 5–6 July 2007 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. It adopted the Geneva Declaration on corporate responsibility. 

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Global Compact's launch, the Global Compact Leaders Summit 2010 took place on 24–25 June 2010 in New York. On the occasion, the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership identifying leadership criteria linked to implementation of the ten principles, efforts to support development objectives, and engagement in the Global Compact was released. 

In 2009 Rotary International partnered with the UN Global Compact. This was a very friendly partnership since Rotary International played a role in the chartering of the United Nations. 

Since its creation in 2000 the Global Compact has been primarily focused on helping support and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, however, after those expired in 2015, their top priority has been updated to the pursuit and progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and the SDG's accompanying 2030 deadlines.


Goals and Purpose

The United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) is a voluntary initiative that encourages businesses and organisations to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and practices. The UNGC sets forth ten principles covering four key areas: human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

In terms of human rights, the UNGC emphasises that businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights. This includes ensuring that they are not complicit in human rights abuses, both within their own operations and in their broader supply chains.

Regarding labor, the UNGC promotes the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. It also calls for the elimination of forced and compulsory labor, the eradication of child labor, and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

In the area of environment, the UNGC encourages businesses to adopt a precautionary approach to environmental challenges. They should undertake initiatives that promote greater environmental responsibility, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving resources, and supporting sustainable practices. The UNGC also encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

The UNGC also emphasises the importance of fighting corruption. Businesses are called upon to work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery. This principle supports the implementation of transparent and ethical practices within organisations, promoting integrity and responsible business conduct.


Impact

The UN Global Compact - Cities Programme was launched in 2002 as an urban-focused component of the Global Compact. It allows cities to join the UN Global Compact and demonstrate their commitment to positive change and international dialogue. The programme aims to improve urban life in cities worldwide.

Under the programme, cities engage in cross-sector partnerships that address urban challenges. A framework called the Melbourne Model was developed, going beyond the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. It involves collaboration between government, business, and civil society to develop practical projects for urban issues. The Circles of Sustainability method was also introduced, providing a comprehensive assessment process for cities' sustainability and strengths.

Over the years, the programme's Secretariat relocated to the Global Cities Institute at RMIT University. It expanded its focus on city-based responses to climate change and globalisation. Various events and initiatives, such as the Urban Thinkers Campus and the Urban Innovation Forum, have been organised to foster knowledge exchange and collaboration among cities.

As of 2020, the City Network had 120 participants, primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the UN Global Compact - Cities Programme concluded in 2021.

The UN Global Compact operates through Local Networks, which are independent and self-governed entities at the country level. These networks, numbering approximately 85, play a crucial role in advancing the Global Compact's principles within diverse national, cultural, and linguistic contexts. They help companies and non-profit organisations understand the concept of responsible business and encourage their engagement with the initiative.

Local Networks act as points of contact for signatories of the Global Compact within their respective countries. They work closely with the Global Compact's headquarters in New York and collaborate on various programs and initiatives. These networks provide a platform for local connections and supplement the international engagement facilitated by the Global Compact, thereby expanding the impact of its members. In addition, specific programs such as the Business for Peace initiative raise awareness among organisations about issues related to instability and conflict, allowing them to address these concerns with the support of their local networks.


References

 

United Nations Global Compact
Leadership team

Sanda Ojiambo (Assistant Secretary-General and CEO)

Melissa Powell (Chief of Staff)

Sue Allchurch (Chief, Outreach & Engagement)

Ole Lund Hansen (Chief, Global Operations)

Lila Karbassi (Chief, Programmes)

Alex Stein (Managing Director, Foundation for the Global Compact)

Olajobi Makinwa (Chief, Intergovernmental Relations & Africa)

Dan Thomas (Communications & Strategic Events)

Headquarters
UN Headquarters, New York, NY 10017, US
Region served
worldwide
Year stablished
2000
Address
UN Headquarters, New York, NY 10017, US
Social Media