Overview of the UN Global Compact

The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to
aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

As social, political and economic challenges (and opportunities) — whether occurring at
home or in other regions — affect business more than ever before, many companies recognize the need to collaborate and partner with governments, civil society, labour and the United Nations.

This ever-increasing understanding is reflected in the Global Compact’s rapid growth. With over 8700 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 130 countries, it is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world.

Endorsed by chief executives, the Global Compact is a practical framework for the
development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices, offering participants a wide spectrum of workstreams, management tools and resources — all designed to help advance sustainable business models and markets.

Overall, the Global Compact pursues two complementary objectives:

  1. Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world
  2. Catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals, including the Millennium
    Development Goals (MDGs)

With these objectives in mind, the Global Compact has shaped an initiative that provides
collaborative solutions to the most fundamental challenges facing both business and society. The initiative seeks to combine the best properties of the UN, such as moral authority and convening power, with the private sector’s solution-finding strengths, and the expertise and capacities of a range of key stakeholders. The Global Compact is global and local; private and public; voluntary yet accountable.

The benefits of engagement include the following:

  • Adopting an established and globally recognized policy framework for the
    development, implementation, and disclosure of environmental, social, and
    governance policies and practices.
  • Sharing best and emerging practices to advance practical solutions and strategies
    to common challenges.
  • Advancing sustainability solutions in partnership with a range of stakeholders,
    including UN agencies, governments, civil society, labour, and other
    non-business interests.
  • Linking business units and subsidiaries across the value chain with the Global
    Compact’s Local Networks around the world — many of these in developing
    and emerging markets.
  • Accessing the United Nations’ extensive knowledge of and experience with
    sustainability and development issues.
  • Utilizing UN Global Compact management tools and resources, and the opportunity to engage in specialized workstreams in the environmental, social and governance realms.

In summary, the Global Compact exists to assist the private sector in the management of
increasingly complex risks and opportunities in the environmental, social and governance realms, seeking to embed markets and societies with universal principles and values for the benefit of all.

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Text by Global Compact. © UN Global Compact 2011 – All Rights Reserved.

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