On Occasion of LEAD Anniversary, UN Secretary-General Urges Business Leaders to Advance Corporate Sustainability

Davos, Switzerland

(Davos, 27 January 2012) – Marking the first anniversary of Global Compact LEAD, a platform for advanced corporate sustainability performance, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon challenged private sector leaders to accelerate uptake of global corporate sustainability practices in the months leading up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

The high-level LEAD luncheon was chaired by the Secretary-General and co-hosted by the Swiss Government, the UN Global Compact and the Guile Foundation on the margins of the World Economic Forum. The 50 participants included Heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes; LEAD chief executives; and investor and business-school representatives from PRI and PRME.

The Secretary-General commended LEAD participants for their sustainability leadership during a time of global uncertainty, particularly in the areas of corporate governance, collaboration with investors and the UN, and in forging stronger ties with Global Compact Local Networks.

As part of the event, Global Compact LEAD launched a set of recommendations for Boards of Directors on their role in improving the sustainability performance of the corporations they oversee. Titled A New Agenda for the Board of Directors: Adoption and Oversight of Corporate Sustainability, the recommendations will be supplemented by a program for Board education and collaboration with investors in integrating sustainability into executive pay.

The luncheon also provided an opportunity for chief executives to engage in open and interactive discussions with UN leadership on the future of corporate sustainability and expectations for the Rio+20 process. The Secretary-General highlighted the Rio+20 Conference as a unique opportunity to chart a more sustainable course for our world and bring corporate sustainability to scale.

“I hope that Rio will be a turning point for corporate sustainability as a driver of change,” he said. “We must mainstream universal sustainability principles in business to ensure that we reach critical mass.”

As part of the discussions surrounding Rio+20, it was determined that the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition, led by Aviva Investors and comprising financial institutions, professional bodies, NGOs and investors, should be a priority initiative for the June conference. The coalition aims to develop an internationally binding framework for corporate sustainability reporting.

The Secretary-General noted three additional ways that business can elevate the corporate sustainability agenda: by serving as ambassadors for corporate sustainability to industry peers; aligning lobbying activities with sustainability commitments; and going to Rio armed with commitments and transformative partnerships to advance the agenda. At Rio+20, business will have a high profile through the Corporate Sustainability Forum organized by the Global Compact.

Several Global Compact LEAD signatories used the opportunity to announce strong commitments toward sustainable development in the lead-up to Rio+20, including Acciona, CNTG Energies, Enel, Eni and Sakhalin Energy. A complete list of LEAD companies is available here.

Media Contact

Matthias Stausberg
UN Global Compact