The UN Global Compact’s environment principles are derived from the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
The three principles are:
The world is today facing unique and daunting environmental challenges. These include climate change; an emerging global crisis in water availability and water pollution; record loss of biodiversity and long-term damage to ecosystems; pollution of the atmosphere; waste production and disposal; impacts of chemicals use and toxic substance disposal; damaged aquatic ecosystems; and deforestation and land degradation.
In recent years, increasing numbers of companies have adopted broad-based strategies and policies to manage the widening array of risks, and in some cases opportunities, presented by these environmental challenges. Companies that pursue such sustainable approaches can generate benefits from the following:
While more and more companies have embraced environmental sustainability as a management imperative, it is also clear that even more comprehensive strategies and actions will be required if business is to reach its full potential with respect to global and local environmental challenges.
Environmental issues — be they related to climate change, water scarcity, or other natural-resource and ecological challenges — are growing in scale and complexity. What is also increasingly clear is that traditional corporate environmental management approaches — based largely on compliance and narrow risk assessments — will not be sufficient to successfully navigate and address these 21st century challenges.
In order to assist companies in preparing for this increasingly challenging landscape, and to give further expression to the UN Global Compact's three core environmental principles, the UN Global Compact Office brought together a group of committed participants and — in partnership with Duke University — developed a next-generation Environmental Stewardship Strategy and related Resource.
This Environmental Stewardship Strategy is designed to help companies — at the highest levels of the organization — develop a truly holistic and comprehensive strategy. And, importantly, it recognizes the growing linkages among various environmental issues as well as their connections to social and development priorities. As well, this Environmental Stewardship Strategy incorporates and leverages the UN Global Compact's Caring for Climate and CEO Water Mandate initiatives.
In addition to its core environmental principles, the UN Global Compact is focusing on two of the most critical — and related — environmental issues of this century: climate change and water sustainability.
In this regard, participants are encouraged to join the following engagement platforms:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has repeatedly stressed the critical importance of sustainable energy, and is mobilizing key constituencies from all sectors of society in a major global initiative intended to shape the fundamental policy and investment decisions needed to put countries on a more sustainable energy pathway over the next two decades. This new global initiative, Sustainable Energy for All, will engage Governments, the private sector and civil society partners to achieve three major targets by 2030:
In support of the Secretary-General’s initiative, the Global Compact has developed A Global Compact for Sustainable Energy: A Framework for Business Action, which was launched at the Private Sector Forum 2011. The Framework aims to motivate and guide business engagement and action in support of the initiative. In keeping with the initiative’s 2030 targets, the Framework identifies how companies can have the most significant impact – through their core business operations as well as product and service development; through social investments and philanthropy; and through advocacy and public policy engagement. The Framework will be further developed ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainanble Development (Rio+20). Efforts are focused on defining, on an industry-by-industry basis, the actions that the private sector can and must take to realize the Secretary General's vision and to mobilize companies around the world.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) produces a range of training materials for decision makers in government, industry and business, and local communities.
UN Global Compact Office
karbassi (at) un.org