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Since the Global Compact launched in 2000, the business community has increasingly shown leadership and willingness to join the United Nations in our work – with a growing number of companies taking steps to respect human rights, ensure safe and decent workplace conditions, protect the environment and implement good corporate governance. In addition to internalizing these principles in business operations, Global Compact companies are asked to undertake more outward-oriented actions to increase their positive impacts on society, thereby supporting broader UN goals and issues, for example in the areas of poverty, health, education, food security, peace, migration and humanitarian assistance.

In many countries, particularly those at the bottom of the economic pyramid, a company’s deep commitment to infrastructure development, local capacity-building, education, health, job creation and disaster relief can be critical to advancing the national development agenda as well as helping the company to build new markets. Corporate efforts that contribute to United Nations development goals are critical to growing sustainable and inclusive markets world-wide. Additionally, working toward UN objectives has a positive influence on a business’ reputation and credibility. Enlightened businesses also recognize the value-creation potential.

Successful development requires sufficient private sector investment to enable broad-based sustainable growth. Responsible investment can assure the longevity and robustness of UN interventions. Governments and the UN also benefit from the financial, logistical and practical support provided by the private sector. More than ever, businesses are needed to contribute, invest, and partner.

In 2011, 75% of companies reported in the Global Compact Implementation Survey that they are taking actions to support UN objectives, both individually and in partnership with other organizations. They are doing so through core business, social investments and advocacy. Read more about how business can contribute to UN objectives.

UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20 (June 2012)

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – known as Rio+20 – brought together all actors to put the world on a more sustainable course, in the environmental, social, economic and governance spheres. Rio+20 fostered a stronger sense of shared purpose and collective responsibility to move from the status quo toward a more sustainable future.

The Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum convened over 2,700 participants – approximately half from the business and investor community, and half from civil society, academia, cities, Government and the United Nations. The Forum included over 120 sessions focused along six thematic tracks aligned with top priorities of the Rio+20 conference: Energy & Climate, Water & Ecosystems, Agriculture & Food, Economics & Finance of Sustainable Development, Social Development, and Urbanization & Cities. The sessions were organized by the UN Global Compact Office, over 35 UN and strategic partners, and more than 20 Global Compact Local Networks.

In Rio, business showed that it can play a vital role in advancing sustainable development, through corporate sustainability defined as a company’s delivery of long-term value in financial, social, environmental and ethical terms. The Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum served as a launching ground for hundreds of new activities, resources and commitments to action by individual businesses, multiple companies, and public-private partnerships. Download Overview and Outcomes.

Post-2015 Development Agenda

Following the success of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, the UN Secretary-General assigned the UN Global Compact a role to gather input from the private sector on the Post-2015 Development Agenda to contribute directly to the recommendations that he will submit to Member States.

Assessing the issues that comprise the UN development agenda and providing a role for business in the post-2015 process will help the Global Compact achieve its mission – to make corporate sustainability a transformative force in achieving a shared, secure and sustainable future. Read more about the Global Compact role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda process.


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(Last updated: 20 April 2013)