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A Special Appeal from the United Nations Global Compact (17 February 2020)
The outbreak of COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, is not only a global health crisis, it is also affecting trade and the global economy. Its impact is growing and will be felt in both the short and the long term. All sectors of society have been affected by the outbreak — including the international business community.
As the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the United Nations Global Compact is calling on business leaders everywhere to unite to support communities and companies affected by the outbreak.
The UN Global Compact expresses concern at the situation unfolding in China and other affected countries. We stand in solidarity with our participants, colleagues and the Chinese people at this difficult time, and hope for a swift end to this crisis.
A coordinated international plan involving the business sector will be critical in efforts to support countries affected and limit further disruption.
In the spirit of responsibility, solidarity and international cooperation, the UN Global Compact is encouraging businesses everywhere to take immediate action to support affected communities and businesses in their time of need.
Suggested actions include but are not limited to:
- Financial support: Contribute funds to the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) which outlines activities and resources needed by international health organizations globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to implement priority public health measures in support of countries to prepare and respond to the outbreak. Companies wishing to support the response in China directed by the Red Cross Society can visit www.redcross.org.cn.
- Raise awareness: Share information from the WHO on precautions and other preventive measures.
- Be flexible: For personnel who are returning from China and other affected countries, exercise flexibility in terms of using remote working arrangements for staff who would like to limit their contact with others and work from home. Support companies and suppliers affected by the outbreak by adopting a flexible and understanding approach to your business dealings. Be flexible on delivery times and pay invoices promptly.
- Be compassionate: Reach out to friends and colleagues and wish them well. Ask them what they need most and offer support.
- Provide aid and support: Explore how your company can support including by leveraging your global supply chain to increase the supply of essential items to respond to the needs in China. Companies can also offer assets, resources and financial support to provide medical supplies and increased support for aid relief efforts.
We continue to monitor the situation and follow updates from the WHO.