At an Inter-agency Meeting held on 12 May 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland, UNIDO was named the fifth UN core agency in the Global Compact.
The invitation to UNIDO to join the Global Compact was motivated by the need to meet the specific needs of SMEs – an area in which UNIDO’s expertise is globally acknowledged. UNIDO’s support for the Global Compact is being sought in recognition of UNIDO's unique operational experience vested in programmes such as Business Partnerships (www.unido.org/business-partnerships); Investment and Technology Promotion (www.unido.org/itpo); SME Cluster Development (www.unido.org/clusters); and Subcontracting Partnership Exchanges (www.unido.org/spx). In addition, UNIDO has spearheaded UN system activities in supporting environmentally responsible entrepreneurship, through training programmes, support tools for enterprise-level environmental management and in particular the UNIDO/UNEP Network of National Cleaner Production Centers (NCPCs) – www.unido.org/cp.
Approximately 30 percent of the nearly 900 companies that have engaged in the Global Compact are classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). While the other UN agencies focus on advocacy and operational roles in respect to their mandates, UNIDO will help realize the objectives of the Global Compact at the field-level in the Organization’s client countries. Through its support programmes, UNIDO will create engagement mechanisms for the SME constituency in the Global Compact, with the intent of creating networks of SMEs that could be considered as championing a particular set of responsible business values.
A study on “Corporate Social Responsibility. Implications for Small and Medium Enterprises in Developing Countries” (Vienna 2002) underpins UNIDO’s new role within the Global Compact.