In an address to the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan challenged business leaders to join an international initiative – the UN Global Compact – that would bring companies together with UN agencies, international labour organisations and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles. Today, many hundreds of companies from all regions of the world, international labour and civil society organisations are engaged in the UN Global Compact, working to advance ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.
Through the power of collective action, the UN Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalisation. In this way, the private sector – in partnership with other social actors – can help realise the Secretary-General’s vision: a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.
The UN Global Compact is a purely voluntary initiative with two objectives:
- Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world
- Catalyse actions in support of UN goals
There are numerous benefits to participating in the UN Global Compact.
- Demonstrating leadership by advancing responsible corporate citizenship.
- Producing practical solutions to contemporary problems related to globalisation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility in a multi-stakeholder context.
- Managing risks by taking a proactive stance on critical issues.
- Leveraging the UN’s global reach and convening power with governments, business, civil society and other stakeholders.
- Sharing good practices and learnings.
- Accessing the UN’s broad knowledge in development issues.
- Improving corporate/brand management, employee morale and productivity, and operational efficiencies.