New Leadership for a Global Crisis: COVID-19

The UN Global Compact has shared a special appeal for a corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic: for all companies to take collective action to stem the outbreak through implementing our Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Businesses are also being called upon to stand together to facilitate business continuity for a fast recovery. Effectively addressing this crisis requires an active response from governments, business and the whole of society. Leaders from the UN Secretary General to the Director-General of the World Health Organization have called for Governments and businesses to work together to meet this challenge.

This conversation highlights the existing and new approaches to leadership in a time of global crisis. In this session, you’ll hear from leaders in the United Nations and business, who will share their experiences of working to respond to COVID-19 and discuss how to pursue immediate and coordinated action across business, the UN system, and Government.

Speakers Include:

  • Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General
  • Mr. Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever
  • Ms. Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director of the UN Global Compact

What did we learn?

  • The projected socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are devastating: the International Labour Organisation estimates that 5 to 25 million jobs will be lost, with between US$860 billion to $3.4 trillion of losses in labour income. UNESCO projects that 1.5 billion students will be out of school. These impacts will be particularly acute in developing economies. Two-thirds of the world live in developing economies and will face unprecedented economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.
  • Crisis response requires coordinated, decisive and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies, and maximum financial and technical support for the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries, who will be the hardest hit: women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups who are already at risk.
  • Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic will require more intensive cooperation, and greater solidarity, across borders and sectors. At the geopolitical level, leadership, transparency, trust and cooperation is needed.
  • The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact can guide a response to this crisis that remains aligned with meeting climate ambitions and the Sustainable Development Goals. The Principles are anchored in business support and respect for human rights; upholding labor rights, including eliminating forced labor and discrimination of employment; promoting environmental responsibility; and working against corruption, extortion and bribery.
  • At Unilever, there is a strong belief that moral behavior is a path to better financial performance, and that the COVID-19 crisis will accelerate this model.

Recommended Resources

Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity: Responding the Socio-Economic Impacts of COVID-19

Special Appeal from the UN Global Compact

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