24 January 2022
Dear Participants of the UN Global Compact,
As we enter the third year of the global coronavirus pandemic, we cannot help but recognize the changing world of work and the impact this has had – on businesses, to be certain, but also on society as a whole as we continue to navigate our way through the changing realities of the COVID crisis.
Yet we face these challenges with optimism, knowing there is opportunity in every crisis. The opportunity to take stock of our current global realities and begin to implement the changes we must make to steer ourselves, our organizations and our planet on a more sustainable course.
At the United Nations Global Compact, we continue to move forward – not just in spite of the global challenges we face, but because of them. And I am encouraged that our growing list of participating companies, sponsors and patrons – and their commitment to sustainability and our Ten Principles – remains stronger than ever.
The power of public-private partnerships
Throughout this pandemic we have seen the benefits of public-private partnerships. They have been instrumental in the provision of personal protective equipment, testing, humanitarian relief and vaccine production and distribution. Yet equity remains a huge challenge. The disparities in vaccine distribution between the Global North and the Global South are glaring and unconscionable. We cannot move towards a post-COVID world if we do not do so collectively, with full vaccine access and equity.
Grounded as we are in United Nations values and our Ten Principles, the Global Compact is in a unique position to support widespread recovery, working in partnership with businesses in every community and country.
Our new Africa and China strategies, for example, aim to unleash the potential of the world’s largest growth market and the global impact of the Chinese economy.
Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals
Leveraging the power of the private sector to engage responsibly and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is at the heart of our work. Businesses large and small have a key role to play in accelerating the ambitious actions we need to secure a future where people and planet can thrive.
As articulated in our 2021-23 strategy, our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the SDGs. To this end, we are focusing our efforts on solving the world’s most pressing challenges through seven focus areas where businesses have an outsized effect on outcomes: Anti-corruption, Climate Change, Human Rights, Labour and Decent Work, Gender Equality, SDG Integration, and Transformational Governance.
New engagement opportunities
Wherever our participating companies are on their sustainability journey, our new engagement opportunities will help them connect, learn, lead, communicate, moving them faster and farther in demonstrating progress on corporate sustainability.
This new UN Global Compact programmatic portfolio will be funded through a simpler, one tier Engagement Model giving all business participants access to the entire range of our programmes, including the Academy.
A majority of participants will not see any significant change in the level of their financial contributions. However, the very large companies with annual revenues of more than US$10 Billion that do will also receive enhanced value and stronger engagement opportunities across their countries of operations and their value chains. The revised financial contributions, which will become effective for existing business participants only in 2023, will help us to deliver on our mission and enable:
- Strong Local Networks and Regional Hubs to increase impact at the national level;
- New and improved programmes backed by a strong digital infrastructure.
- Increased support to SMEs that will help us to work with value chains of MNCs and many national and local businesses.
Looking ahead, we know that our foundation is sound. It is not the issues that stand between us and a sustainable planet; it is our agility. We must act on a scale and at a pace we have not tried before. But I am confident that the Global Compact is best suited to enable the private sector to do the right thing. We are, in my opinion, ahead of the curve – not only in terms of our steadily rising number of participating companies committed to sustainability, but in forging the kind of relationship that fosters two-way communication. We do not just guide our participating companies; we listen to them and support them.
Fortunately, there is growing recognition among investors and governments that there are enormous opportunities for businesses to play a critical role in the transition to a sustainable, climate-safe future. The private sector has a critical role to play in reshaping the future of corporate finance and investment as a catalyst to help achieve the SDGs by 2030 and halve carbon emissions by 2050.
Communicating on Progress
In an effort to add value and streamline sustainability reporting for all participating companies, the UN Global Compact is delighted to announce the launch of an enhanced Communication on Progress platform coming in 2023.
Our new Communication on Progress will help companies set goals and track their sustainability progress, validating the business case for aligning their business practices with the Ten Principles and the SDGs. This year, we are inviting 500 participating companies to join our Early Adopter programme giving them early access to the platform, tools and resources to support their transition.
Whether that means realigning investments with the SDGs, addressing climate adaptation, or broadening efforts to address social equity gaps, I am confident that, working together, we will not only be able to future proof the planet, but strengthen business resilience for decades to come.
Thank you for your continued participation in the UN Global Compact and strong support. Let’s keep moving forwards together, united in the business of a better world.
CEO & Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact