Forward-thinking businesses will play an increasingly vital role in global efforts to eliminate poverty, deprivation and social inequality, according to a report released by two leading international business organizations.
The joint report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the UN Global Compact was delivered to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of eminent persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which worked to create a new development framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set to conclude in 2015. The report was issued with the support of the World Economic Forum and the High-Level Panel’s business representatives.
“Eradicating the scourge of global poverty while at the same time building more sustainable economies in the developing world is not only an achievable imperative, it’s also good for business,” said Peter Bakker, President of the WBCSD. “That’s because healthy societies and a thriving business sector go hand in hand.”
The Global Compact-WBCSD report notes that today’s business community is vastly different from the one that existed in 2000 when the first MDGs were developed. Now, a growing number of progressive companies are adopting a values-and-principles-based management and operational approach, recognizing that long-term business success is dependent on future sustainable development achievements, including:
The ongoing availability of abundant natural resources such as clean water, and healthy soil, ecosystems and forests;
Protecting human rights to stabilize societies and enable economies to reach their full potential;
A functioning governance system that operates largely without corruption and coercion, providing business with transparency and certainty so it can invest for the long term; and
A sustainable economy that harmonizes the need for capital creation with the scientific realities of natural resource constraints.
“The critical global challenges we face today are too complex for any one sector to solve on its own,” said Georg Kell, UN Global Compact Executive Director. “The post-2015 process provides an historic opportunity to help place private sector-led solutions at the center of a new global development architecture and make corporate sustainability a transformative force for change.”
The joint report details a number of recommendations to the High-Level Panel aimed at maximizing business engagement in the process. Some of these include ensuring the new development objectives:
Adequately address the nexus of water, energy and food; and the effective management and maintenance of biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystem services;
Continue to address universal access to healthcare and education, since these are pathways to decent, qualified and productive employment, without which an economy cannot grow and prosper;
Customize goals for different business sectors, while at the same time promoting a universal framework of integrated reporting encompassing financial, natural and social capital.
The report also lays out a set of high-level policy recommendations necessary to ensure successful implementation of any future development objectives. For example, the report calls for using more public-private partnerships; enhancing corporate sustainability disclosures including “integrated reporting”; and creating more effective incentives for businesses to adopt sustainability practices.
The report concludes by noting that many businesses are now well equipped to pursue sustainable development goals because they have placed sustainability at the core of their business model.
“Driven by both commercial and ethical imperatives, these organizations have embedded the tenets of corporate sustainability into their strategies and operations and have embraced a development paradigm within their business philosophies,” the report states. “This shift by business comes at a thrilling time. The Post-2015 Development process presents an historic opportunity to engage the international business community to an extent never before realized.”
For further information, please click here or contact: Caroline Baldwin WBCSD or Kristen Coco UN Global Compact