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The United Nations Global Compact, Business and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Summary

With the business contribution to UN goals and objectives at an all-time high, and the UN entering the process of determining its development framework as targets of the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015, this is an opportune moment for business and the Global Compact to help shape the future priorities of the UN.

Delivering a better future for all requires action by all – Governments, corporations, citizens, consumers, workers, investors and educators. Undoubtedly, the private sector has a central role to play. As the world’s main source of economic activity, business is at the heart of virtually any widespread improvements in living standards.

Markets are essential for creating and diffusing solutions that will drive the changes our world needs. But, this will not happen through business as usual. Investment and business activity must be sustainable – delivering value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and ethical terms.

Business is increasingly forming alliances to address the world’s most urgent development issues. Recognizing the importance of shared values, some of these collaborations have reached significant scale in areas such as water, gender equality and climate change.

Following the success of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum in June 2012, the UN Secretary-General assigned the UN Global Compact a position on a par with his High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and entities such as the inter-agency UN Development Group to contribute directly to the recommendations that he submitted to Member States.

Assessing the issues that comprise the UN development agenda and providing a role for business in the post-2015 process will help the Global Compact achieve its mission – to make corporate sustainability a transformative force in achieving a shared, secure and sustainable future.

The Global Compact Action Plan

To assure that the private sector perspective is incorporated into the UN Post-2015 Development Agenda, the following activities are underway:

Supporting High-Level Panel: The Global Compact is providing support to Mr. Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, and Ms. Betty Maina, CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers and Network Representative, Global Compact Network Kenya, in their role as key business representatives on the Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel. Leveraging Global Compact LEAD: LEAD – a program for advanced corporate sustainability practices – has developed a task force to review what themes a new set of global sustainable development objectives should contain; how they could be shaped as goals and targets; and how business can best be involved. To date, a symposium was held in November 2012 and a luncheon with the Secretary-General was convened during the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2013. Consulting Local Networks: Global Compact Local Networks are conducting consultations at the national and regional levels. Where possible, these efforts are undertaken in concert with Unilever and the UN Development Group. Gathering Thematic input: Events linked to specific thematic areas (e.g. women’s empowerment, water, anti-corruption) will include post-2015 development consultations on their agendas. The Global Compact is collaborating with other associations of socially and environmentally committed businesses to aggregate input to the post-2015 thought process, including through joint sponsorship of a September 2012 panel discussion in New York.

The Global Compact, through its annual Implementation Survey, has collected feedback from over 1,700 companies regarding their perspectives on how business can contribute towards global development priorities. The Global Compact is also represented on various UN Task Teams charged with developing input from the UN Secretariat and UN agencies.

The Global Compact has appointed Klaus Leisinger, Chairman of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, as Special Advisor on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and Business Ethics. Brice Lalonde, former Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Coordinator of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, will also serve as Special Advisor on Sustainable Development to the UN Global Compact.

Input from the private sector was submitted to the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda in March 2013 (click here to download the document) and to the Secretary-General in May 2013, whose report will be presented to Member States in time for the UN General Assembly in September 2013. The triennial Global Compact Leaders Summit in September 2013 will also provide an opportunity to showcase the private sector perspective on the post-2015 development process.

For more information, please contact: Melissa Powell Head, Strategy and Partnerships, UN Global Compact.