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Global Compact Governance

Following a comprehensive review of the United Nations Global Compact’s governance during 2004–2005, a new governance framework was adopted in August 2005. In keeping with the Global Compact’s voluntary and network-based character, the governance framework is light, non-bureaucratic and designed to foster greater involvement in, and ownership of, the initiative by participants and other stakeholders themselves. In November 2008, the Global Compact Donor Group adopted its own Terms of Reference, which was revised in November 2013. As a part of this revision the Donor Group was renamed the Government Group. Governance functions are shared by seven entities, each with differentiated tasks within a multi-centric framework: 

The role of each entity in the governance framework is as follows:

Global Compact Leaders Summit

The Leaders Summit is a triennial (next to be held in 2013) gathering of the top executives of all Global Compact participants and other stakeholders. As the largest gathering of its kind, the Leaders Summit represents a unique opportunity for Global Compact participants to discuss the Global Compact and corporate citizenship at the highest level, and to produce strategic recommendations and action imperatives related to the future evolution of the initiative. 

More broadly, the Leaders Summit aims to deepen the commitment of participating leaders from business, labour and civil society to the Global Compact and its principles; to build and scale up momentum within the business sector; and to foster enabling environments and collective action. For more information about the most recent Leaders Summit in 2010, click here.

Local Networks

Local Networks are groups of participants that come together to advance the Global Compact and its principles within a particular country or geographic region. They perform increasingly important roles in rooting the Global Compact within different national, cultural and linguistic contexts, and also in helping to manage the organizational consequences of rapid expansion. Their role is to facilitate the progress of companies (both local firms and subsidiaries of foreign corporations) engaged in the Global Compact with respect to implementation of the ten principles, while also creating opportunities for multi-stakeholder engagement and collective action. There are currently more than 100 Local Networks around the world.

Apart from acting in accordance with the Global Compact’s principles and objectives, Local Networks are self-governing. They have the opportunity to nominate members for election to the Global Compact Board, provide input on major activities undertaken by the Global Compact Office and convene the Annual Local Networks Forum. Their input is also sought on the agenda for the triennial Leaders Summit. Furthermore, Local Networks play an important role in support of the communications on progress and integrity measures. In 2013 a Local Network Advisory Group (LNAG) was established to better facilitate communication and interaction between Local Networks and the Global Compact office (View Terms of Reference for LNAG). For more information on Global Compact Local Networks click here

Annual Local Networks Forum

The Annual Local Networks Forum is the main occasion for Local Networks from around the world to share experiences, review and compare progress, identify best practices, and adopt recommendations intended to enhance the effectiveness of Local Networks. For more information click here.

Global Compact Board

The Global Compact Board is a multi-stakeholder advisory body that meets annually (first meeting in June 2006) to provide ongoing strategic and policy advice for the initiative as a whole and make recommendations to the Global Compact Office, participants and other stakeholders. The Board is comprised of four constituency groups — business, civil society, labour and the United Nations — with differentiated roles and responsibilities apart from their overall advisory function. While the Board as a whole holds an annual formal meeting, the constituency groups are expected to interact with the Global Compact Office on an ongoing basis. The Secretary-General, the Chair of the Foundation for the Global Compact, the Chair of the Principles for Responsible Investment and the Executive Director of the Global Compact Office have ex-officio seats on the Board.

The 31 Board members are champions willing and able to advance the Global Compact’s mission. Members of the Board act in a personal, honorary and unpaid capacity. Their Board membership does not render them UN officials.  

Drawing in particular on the expertise and recommendations of its business members, the Board is also expected to play a role in the implementation of the Global Compact’s integrity measures. In addition to their overall Board responsibilities, the civil society and labour constituency groups are expected to provide close liaison to their communities and share with the Board as a whole, and the Global Compact Office and Inter-Agency Team in particular, insights into the most recent trends and best practices of corporate citizenship in their respective domains. For more information click  here.

Global Compact Office

The Global Compact Office is the UN entity formally entrusted with the support and overall management of the Global Compact initiative. It has received the endorsement of the UN General Assembly (A/RES/68/234) and has been given UN system-wide responsibilities for promoting the sharing of best practices. The Global Compact Office also has responsibilities with regard to advocacy and issue leadership, fostering network development and maintaining the Global Compact communications infrastructure. Furthermore, the Global Compact Office plays a central role in advancing the partnership agenda across the UN system and has overall responsibility for brand management and implementation of the integrity measures. 

The Global Compact Office represents itself and the other members of the Inter-Agency Team on the Board. It also services the Leaders Summit, the Global Compact Board and the Annual Local Networks Forum.

Global Compact Government Group

The Global Compact Office is funded by voluntary contributions from Governments to a UN Trust Fund. Contributions are welcome from any Government. Current contributors to the Trust Fund include: China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The bi-annual meeting of the Global Compact Government Group is open for governments that contribute to the work of the initiative in line with the Global Compact Strategy and Work Plan. Government contributions can be:

  • to the Global Compact Trust Fund;
  • in the form of direct support to a specific Global Compact Local Network; and
  • additional support of specific Global Compact initiatives in line with the Strategy.

The contribution of governments can be financial or in kind, as for example by funding Junior Professional Officers, hosting events and contributing to studies. Governments communicate on their engagement with the initiative annually in a simple common standard format to the Global Compact Office, which can be downloaded here (doc). The Global Compact Office encourages governments to contribute directly to the Trust Fund if possible.

The Government Group meets twice annually at capital level to review progress made and to ensure the effective and efficient use of the contributions that Governments have provided to the Global Compact Trust Fund. The Terms of Reference for the Government Group can be downloaded here. The UN Global Compact Financial Reports are also available for 2011 and 2012. Governments contributing to the Trust Fund and other interested Governments are also welcome to participate in a Friends Group that meets more frequently in New York to be kept informed of developments in the initiative.


Papers on Global Compact Governance



Ursula Wynhoven

(Last updated 5 December 2014)