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Global Compact and GSB Initiative Launched in Kenya

2005-05-07 

Nairobi, Kenya, 5 May 2005 – Representatives from government, the private sector, civil society and the donor community met on Tuesday and opened discussions on two global UN initiatives that have now started in Kenya: the UN Global Compact and the Growing Sustainable Business (GSB) initiative.  The Global Compact seeks to bring companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society in an effort to advance universal social and environment principles. A complementary, but distinct initiative, the GSB aims to find ways to increase pro-poor business in Kenya and to facilitate greater business involvement in development and poverty reduction efforts.

The Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Zaddock Syongoh, Dr. Manu Chandaria, Founding Chairman of KEPSA and Executive Director of Comcraft, and Paul Andre de la Porte, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative opened the event.  The regional representative of the Global Compact, Ms. Ellen Kallinowsky and the UNDP Special Advisor, Mr. William Day facilitated the discussions.  The event was organized by UNDP, in collaboration with other UN agencies, the Government of Kenya, the private sector and civil society representatives.

More than 50 representatives assembled in the day-long meeting to discuss the role of the business community in delivering the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Companies were challenged to sign the Global Compact and hence, commit to making the ten Global Compact principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, part of business strategy and operations. Tetra Pak and Standard Chartered, who have already signed the Compact at HQ level, reaffirmed their company’s commitment locally.  Seven other companies joined the Global Compact for the first time: Mabati Rolling Mills, Safaricom, Eastern Produce, Vestergaard Frandsen, CIMBRIA , Davis & Shirtliff and Old Mutual Kenya.

The event also familiarized participants with the Growing Sustainable Business model, which facilitates business-led enterprise solutions to poverty and provides a framework through which the risks associated with specific private sector investments in least developed countries can be mitigated. The discussions focused on how business can help Kenya improve its domestic investment environment, grow the domestic business sector and meet the development targets spelled out in the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS).  Three companies, SC Johnson, Tetra Pak and Grameen Technology Center introduced their pro-poor business investment ideas.

The Growing Sustainable Business initiatives stems from the United Nations Global Compact Policy Dialogue in 2002 on “Business and Sustainable Development”, globally launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.  The initiative recognizes that little of the increase in Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) to developing counties over the last decade goes to the Least Developed Countries. In addition, it also recognizes that by developing innovative products, services and approaches, and by working in partnership with other sectors, business can significantly contribute to sustainable development through its investments. The initiative therefore aims to facilitate and increase investments and business activities that have a positive impact on sustainable development and on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in particular on local economic development.  The GSB is currently active in Tanzania, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and Zambia.

Please contact Mr. Sameer Hajee (sameer.hajee@undp.org) of UNDP Kenya for more information.

View the launch report.