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Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. With more than 7,000 corporate signatories in over 140 countries, it is the worlds largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative.
Leading into Rio 20 Summit, Business Makes a Pitch for Corporate-based and Public-Private Sustainability Solutions
A wrap-up statement from the Rio 20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (15-18 June) endorses the potential of multi-stakeholder collaboration in making transformational changes on energy, water, food, women’s empowerment and other global issues, and the power of private sector innovation to scale up and sustain progress. Business pledges and policy recommendations will be handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Heads of State on 21 June at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 20) .
One pending issue will be dealt with at the Forum´s closing plenary, later tonight. Participants will vote on whether business should make a bid to be part of developing and promoting new worldwide Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A proposal to establish SDGs, as an extension of the Millennium Development Goals, is on the Rio 20 agenda and is one of the items that has attracted broadest inter-governmental support.
With 1,400 private sector representatives, the Rio 20 Corporate Sustainability Forum has drawn the highest level of participation from the business community of any UN conference. There are more than 500 representatives from government and, combined with UN, grassroots and academic participation, total registration has surpassed 2,700.
Organized and hosted by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with the Rio 20 Secretariat, the UN System and the Global Compact Local Network Brazil, the Forum is a launching pad for a range of new programmes, according to an advance draft of today’s Executive Summary:
- Approximately 200 corporate commitments in areas ranging from carbon neutrality and infrastructure to replenishing natural environments, and multi-stakeholder action frameworks on water, biodiversity and social enterprise investing;
- A communiqué from 45 CEOs of brand-name corporations to governments detailing areas where regulation, support and incentives can advance progress on delivery of fresh water and access to sanitation facilities – the infrastructure sector tagged as requiring the greatest investment in upcoming decades;
- The launch of a new corporate policy framework to assist companies in the development, implementation, and disclosure of policies and practices related to ecosystems and biodiversity;
- The launch of a social enterprise investment framework, designed for large corporations, institutional investors and governments interested in incubating and scaling up for-profit startups and small enterprises with social and environmental missions;
- The UN Global Compact and a group of 16 leading companies and stakeholders in the food and agriculture sector committed to champion the development of global voluntary business principles on good practice and policy for sustainable agriculture. This initiative will be aimed at developing a common understanding and agreement on what resources and impacts are needed from the global community to transform markets and agricultural supply systems;
- A commitment by five stock exchanges, collectively listing over 4,600 companies, to promote sustainable investment – a first step towards a global call from the "Sustainable Stock Exchange" initiative to improve environmental, social, and corporate governance disclosure and performance of listed companies;
- Commitments by over 60 Higher Education Institutions in the Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative, to better integrate sustainable development into business school curricula worldwide;
- An online platform of the Women’s Empowerment Principles to advance transparency and disclosure on gender equality issues in business;
- Over 70 businesses, governments and international organizations endorsed the Green Industry Platform, an initiative to mainstream environmental and social considerations into corporate operations through efficient use of energy and raw materials, innovative practices and applications of new green technologies; and
- Chief executives of 37 banks, investment funds, and insurance companies submitted a far-reaching Natural Capital Declaration aimed towards integrating natural capital considerations into their products and services.
The private sector has established credentials in the full spectrum of sustainable development, Forum organizers say. Examples include producers delivering on energy efficiency and carbon neutrality; business dynamism in the developing world as a lead factor in the strong decline in extreme poverty rates; access to cell phones by six out of seven billion people in the world; and the location of two thirds of Internet users in developing countries.
“Entering into the Rio 20 process, we were concerned that corporate action on deteriorating environments and on the pressures brought about by an ever more tightly compressed global society needed to be scaled up drastically to reach a tipping point,” Global Compact executive director Georg Kell said this afternoon.
“We now know that momentum is here,” he said, “and that there is no turning back for business.”
The Rio 20 Corporate Sustainability Forum took place at the Windsor Barra Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
IN RIO DE JANEIRO:
Forum Spokesperson Tim Wall, 1 213-447-5954, 55 21 9283 7118, email@example.com
Deputy Spokesperson Kristen Coco, 1 917-288-0787, 55 21 6845 6925, firstname.lastname@example.org
Vanessa Ramalho, Forum Media Relations Staff, Vanessa.email@example.com,
55 11 80319009
IN NEW YORK:
Global Compact Head of Public Affairs Matthias Stausberg, 1 917-367-3423, firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want
Hosted by the UN Global Compact, in cooperation with the Rio 20 Secretariat, the UN System and the Global Compact Local Network Brazil, the Rio 20 Corporate Sustainability Forum (15-18 June 2012) seeks to bring greater scale and quality to corporate sustainability practices, as a critical contribution to sustainable development. As a showcase for innovation and collaboration, the Forum is designed to be a launching ground for widespread action. With more than 2,000 participants in attendance, the Forum features over 100 sessions focused on six themes central to the Rio 20 agenda: Energy & Climate, Water & Ecosystems, Agriculture & Food, Social Development, Urbanization & Cities, and Economics & Finance. www.compact4rio.org
About the UN Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is a both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.www.unglobalcompact.org