Overview of the UN Global CompactThe UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour,environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.
As social, political and economic challenges (and opportunities) — whether occurring at home or in other regions — affect business more than ever before, many companies recognize the need to collaborate and partner with governments, civil society, labour and the United Nations.
This ever-increasing understanding is reflected in the Global Compact's rapid growth. With over 8700 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 130 countries, it is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world.
Endorsed by chief executives, the Global Compact is a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices, offering participants a wide spectrum of workstreams, management tools and resources — all designed to help advance sustainable business models and markets. (See How to Participate.)
Overall, the Global Compact pursues two complementary objectives:
The benefits of engagement include the following:
Finally, the Global Compact incorporates a transparency and accountability policy known as the Communication on Progress (COP). The annual posting of a COP is an important demonstration of a participant's commitment to the UN Global Compact and its principles. Participating companies are required to follow this policy, as a commitment to transparency and disclosure is critical to the success of the initiative. Failure to communicate will result in a change in participant status and possible expulsion.
In summary, the Global Compact exists to assist the private sector in the management of increasingly complex risks and opportunities in the environmental, social and governance realms, seeking to embed markets and societies with universal principles and values for the benefit of all.