One Global Compact: Uniting Business for A Better World

The United Nations Global Compact is uniquely positioned to support companies as they align their practices for a sustainable and inclusive future while building back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the broad-based support of all 193 participant countries of the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Global Compact remains the single, global normative authority and reference point for action and leadership within a growing global corporate sustainability movement.

Our new strategy intends to leverage that position and elevate expectations of how businesses will embed all Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into their operations. These Ten Principles — covering human rights, labour rights, the environment and anti-corruption — are intrinsic for the sustainability of business, people and the planet. They offer companies of all sizes a blueprint for contributing towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. 

The pandemic and ongoing climate crisis has compromised much of the progress the world had attained since the adoption of the Global Goals in 2015. Our strategy aims to regain that lost ground and advance much, much further by persuading the global business community, and its leaders, to scale up their contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. 

It is our ambition because it is imperative.

How we shaped our strategy

The 2021–2023 UN Global Compact Strategy is built upon a framework with five key elements. Each element represents a deliberate, specific set of choices on our ambition, on who we will engage on the issues and programmes we will focus upon, and on how we will operate.

To achieve our ambition in this Decade of Action, we will drive impact through two main paths: accountable companies and enabling ecosystems.

Accountable companies are businesses that are devoted to accelerating their own individual company’s progress in upholding the Ten Principles and contributing to the Global Goals. Enabling Ecosystems are global and local communities and networks that encourage, assist and support collective action on the Ten Principles and the Global Goals. 


What does this mean for our work?

Our new global strategy for 2021–2023 includes five key shifts to accelerate the actions of business and expand the impact of their actions.

The five shifts are:

Holding Companies Accountable. We will strive to move participant companies faster and farther than others to clearly reveal progress on corporate sustainability and responsible business practices. We will use specific, measurable targets within an enhanced reporting framework, to hold participating companies accountable.

A Balanced Growth of Local and Regional Networks. We will empower Global Compact Local Networks, the foundation of all our work, to build more dynamic national ecosystems for business sustainability. This effort should help launch new national and regional Global Compact networks. Our focus will be on the Global South, China and the United States.

Measuring Impact in Priority Areas. Co-created with the Local Networks that deliver programmes on the ground, UN Global Compact programmes will focus on the Ten Principles to lead action on five priority Global Goals. We are uniquely placed to shape the business community’s progress and action on these priority areas: Gender Equality (SDG 5); Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8); Climate Action (SDG 13); Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16); and Partnerships (SDG 17). We will adapt each programme to each country’s unique needs.

Harnessing the Collective Action of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMEs). Most businesses — about 90 per cent — around the world are SMEs. SMEs are also responsible for more than 50 per cent of employment globally. The UN Global Compact is responding to the growing need to support SMEs through cross-cutting programmes leveraging digital tools and value chains to reach scale.

Engage more actively with the United Nations and its partners. We will heighten our collaboration at the global and national levels with United Nations agencies and United Nations country teams. Our intention is to accelerate our reach and ability to advance responsible business practices around the world.

Together, we will be One Global Compact uniting business for a better world.