The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative with 9,913 companies participating in 161 countries. This broad coalition of more than 20 businesses, civil society and UN leaders encourages companies to set more ambitious climate targets consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement which seeks to keep temperatures from increasing more than the prescribed upper temperature threshold limit of 1.5°C. They focus on three key areas, environment, social and governance issues. They help companies to align their strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.
Research shows that companies that participate in the UN Global Compact outperform their peers in sustainability.
The Compact is premised on ten sustainability focused principles. As they explain on their website, “Corporate sustainability starts with a company’s value system and a principles-based approach to doing business…By incorporating the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact into strategies, policies and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success.”
UN Global Compact Ten Principles
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
In addition to these ten principles they take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.