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United Nations Global Compact Meeting: Dialogue, Partnering Critical in New Era of Sustainability

April 4, 2011

 

Repeated calls for two-way communication, dialogue, "listening to each other", and partnering among stakeholders resonated at the United Nations Global Compact Leadership Summit here today.

The Summit, attended by some 1,000 corporate leaders and a full complement of their counterparts from government, labor, academia and non-governmental organizations, marked the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Compact.

In opening the Summit, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki Moon, urged the "building of a new era of sustainability" and re-committed the Global Compact to play a central role in that era. He forecast that the Compact, with 8,000 member organizations around the world, plans to grow to 20,000 members by 2020.

Major Societal Players Urge, Project Collaboration

Leaders from corporations, government, labor, academia and NGOs, elaborated on a new global Accenture sustainability study reporting that "93% of CEOs [surveyed] believe that sustainability issues will be critical to the future success of their business". These organizational repeatedly called for, and predicted, cooperative efforts involving communication. A sample of their statements:

  • The need to integrate global issues into corporate strategy: "The total value chain in society is now relevant."
  • The growing interest in sustainability in the financial world: "We must better explain to investors that we are at the tipping point in company valuation. (The Global Compact's "Principles of Responsible Investment" have been adopted by some 750 financial analysts in 40 countries.)
  • Labor's readiness to partner: "We are prepared to engage with business on sustainability to link the boardroom with the workplace."
  • The role of NGOs: "We will be sustainability watchdogs, pushing the bar higher, especially on human rights.
  • Academia's prospects as a future sustainability driver: "The new ‘Principals of Responsible Business education' will stimulate growth of college and university curriculums from 300 schools currently to a goal of 1,000 schools by 2015."

Of special interest to public relations professionals managing sustainability (CSR) communications, the Compact Leadership Summit presented a special session "to strengthen the quality of sustainable reporting in the corporate sector". Attendance for the session, "United Nations Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative - Creating a Value Platform for Sustainability," was over-subscribed with a substantial waiting list.

For more information, consult the Compact's website: www.unglobalcompact.org