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UN Post-2015 Development Agenda

With the business contribution to UN goals and objectives at an all-time high, and the UN in a process of determining its development framework as targets of the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015; this is an opportune moment for business and the Global Compact to help shape the future priorities of the UN.

Delivering a better future for all requires action by all – Governments, corporations, citizens, consumers, workers, investors and educators. Undoubtedly, the private sector has a central role to play. As the world’s main source of economic activity, business is at the heart of virtually any widespread improvements in living standards.

Markets are essential for creating and diffusing solutions that will drive the changes our world needs. But, this will not happen through business as usual. Investment and business activity must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and ethical terms.

Business is increasingly forming alliances to address the world’s most urgent development issues. Recognizing the importance of shared values, some of these collaborations have reached significant scale in areas such as water, gender equality and climate change.

Assessing the issues that comprise the UN development agenda and providing a role for business in the post-2015 process will help the Global Compact achieve its mission – to make corporate sustainability a transformative force in achieving a shared, secure and sustainable future.

UN Process

Member States are currently discussing the possibility of a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to complement or replace the MDGs. According to the mandate laid down by Governments at Rio+20 in 2012, the proposed SDGs would be consistent with the post-2015 development agenda, and would be centered on the principles of sustainable development.

Interest in partnerships and the role of business in this process is growing among member states. Since the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum in June 2012 the Global Compact has been positioned to convey the business perspective to the post-2015 development process.

The UN Global Compact Action Plan, Looking Ahead to 2015

The following activities underway will form the basis for input submitted in the coming year to the UN Secretary General’s synthesis report and to member states’ deliberations:

  • The UN Global Compact is conducting consultations among its Local Networks – found in 100+ countries around the world – on two key themes:
    • how elements of the UN’s post-2015 development agenda apply to specific national settings.
    • in collaboration UN Industrial Development Organization, how business can best support priorities likely to be found in post-2015 agenda and the SDGs.
  • A task force from LEAD – a group of 50 highly engaged companies in the UN Global Compact – is focusing on the means of implementation, including measurability, accountability and the role of small and medium-sized enterprises.  
  • UN Global Compact issue work streams are engaging thousands of businesses in these global priorities.
  • The UN Global Compact is conveying the voice of responsible business through key intergovernmental processes including: the President of the General Assembly, the Open Working Group on the SDGs and the Economic and Social Council. The UN Global Compact is also a part of One Secretariat, and is supporting the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning.
    • The Global Compact paper, "The Role of Business and Finance in Supporting the Post-2015 Agenda," highlights the role of business and investors in advancing sustainable development goals through responsible business actions. The paper was introduced at the high-level luncheon of the Global Compact Board meeting (2 July 2014), co-hosted by the Permanent Representatives of Brazil, Nigeria and Switzerland to the United Nations and attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as nearly 150 participants, including 30 ambassadors. Download paper. [details]
  • With other global corporate sustainability organizations, the UN Global Compact is developing tools to help companies understand the most material sustainable development issues for its sector, identify the most relevant business solutions, measure and communicate impact, and set targets for its specific contribution to the realization of global sustainable development goals.

Issue Briefs

The Global Compact has developed a series of “issue briefs” addressing the post-2015 development agenda and related sustainable development goals. Each of the ten papers explores a different priority issue area as identified through extensive consultations with LEAD companies and other stakeholders. This briefing series outlines the critical role business has to play in achieving sustainable development goals. Furthermore, the papers highlight the willingness of the business community to support the efforts of governments and civil society in creating a more sustainable and equitable world. These issue briefs have been presented to the co-chairs of the inter-governmental Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Compact especially encourages Government and UN representatives to review these issue briefs to learn more about how the private sector can best support each of the following global priority issues:


The 2013 Global Compact Leaders Summit and the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture

The triennial Global Compact Leaders Summit (New York September 2013), convened under the theme Architects of a Better World, brought together chief executives with leaders from civil society, Government and the United Nations to unveil the Business Engagement Architecture to align and scale up business action in support of sustainable development priorities.

The Global Compact Leaders Summit was convened in the days ahead of UN General Assembly discussions of progress on the MDGs and the post-2015 agenda. At the Leaders Summit UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon unveiled the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture which illustrates the main building blocks necessary to enhance corporate sustainability as an effective contribution to sustainable development, creating value for both business and society.  

Download Building the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture. Click here for the press release: [details].

Follow-up to Rio+20: Developing First Report to UN Secretary-General

Following the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum in June 2012, the Global Compact began gathering input and perspectives from the private sector for the UN Secretary-General to inform the discussions at the UN General Assembly plenary in September 2013. The findings gathered during those consultations fed into other post-2015 processes, such as the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and was brought to entities such as the inter-agency UN Development Group to contribute directly to recommendations made to member states.
Key milestones of the first round of consultations included:

  • Thirty-five Local Networks, from around the world, carried out consultations on their viewpoints on post-2015 and submitted advisory reports.
  • Feedback from over 1,700 companies on how business can contribute towards global development priorities was tabulated in the Global Compact Annual Implementation Survey
  • A LEAD task force held a series of in-depth seminars, as well as a luncheon with the UN Secretary-General during the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Talks led to the development of 10 recommended sustainable development goals and 49 related targets.
  • Events linked to specific Global Compact issue platforms (e.g. women’s empowerment, water, anti-corruption) included post-2015 development consultations on their agendas.
  • The Global Compact collaborated with and supported the business representatives on the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Global Compact Network Indonesia convened a regional private sector event at the final High Level Panel meeting (Bali, 2013).
  • The Global Compact represented the perspectives of the private sector on various UN Task Teams charged with gathering input from the UN Secretariat and UN agencies.

The findings of this consultation process were compiled in the June 2013 report to the UN Secretary-General on Corporate Sustainability and the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda: Perspectives from UN Global Compact Participants on Global Priorities and How to Engage Business Towards Sustainable Development Goals. Click here for press release: [details].

Key Events

Additional Resources

For more information regarding the Global Compact’s role in the post-2015 development process please contact Marie Wibe (wibe <at> un.org).