Celebrating 15 years UN Global Compact sees gap between talk and action

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the UN Global Compact is calling for business to convert talk to action when it comes to sustainability.

A report titled “IMPACT: Transforming Business, Changing the World” published to coincide with the anniversary celebrations had mixed findings about the role of businesses in sustainable development.

The Global Compact is a UN initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. So far, more than 8,000 business participants have committed to doing business responsibly, in line with universal principles encompassing human rights, labor rights, environmental protection and anti-corruption efforts.

“Companies are becoming increasingly systematic about integrating sustainability into their operations,” the report said. But it added that “implementation varies significantly between companies, progress is slow, and a large gap remains between talk and action.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that businesses will be “indispensable” in the period ahead, stating that, “The Global Compact has been instrumental not just in reshaping global business practices, but in refreshing the United Nations — opening its doors to a business community that for too long saw little common ground or shared interest.”

The UN will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year and sustainable development is high on the world organization’s agenda recognising that to achieve sustainable development it must form partnerships with businesses and civil society as well as governments.

Henrik Madsen, CEO of DNV GL, the company that produced the report, said the global business community needed to be doing more to achieve sustainability. “We are doing what we can but we are not yet doing what we must, ” Madsen said. “Every day that business as usual continues we delay the opportunity that we know awaits us in this new climate economy.”

The full report (pdf) can be downloaded from SharingValueAsia’s library here.