The modern age is plagued by a slew of issues that will only be exacerbated by climate change and an exponentially increasing human population. Lack of access to clean water, aging infrastructure, declining arable land and pollinator populations, poverty, gender equality, deforestation, extreme weather, and political unrest are a only a few of the problems facing today’s generations around the world. Governments won’t solve these issues alone, they need civil society organizations and business leaders to have a shared commitment to sustainability.
Collaborations and cross-disciplinary action will become increasingly imperative if we are to successfully address these challenges. One organization realizes the central role the corporate sector can play in constructing both a prosperous economy and a brighter tomorrow for everyone.
In order to confront the many manifestations of these problems, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) examines how leaders in business at the forefront of innovation are already in the perfect position to also serve as pioneers in environmental and social policy, and ultimately, build a fairer, more balanced world.
What is the UN Global Compact?
As “the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative,” The UN Global Compact brings businesses together “to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals” (UNGC).
By focusing on environmental, social, and governmental accountability, the UNGC aims to create both ethical and profitable alternatives to conventional industry practices, redesigning financial markets and supply chains with an emphasis on transparency and justice. Part of this strategy is the development of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
What are the Sustainable Development Goals?
In September of last year, all 193 member countries of the United Nations set a fifteen-year goal for the betterment of the world, including ambitions to end poverty, combat injustice, and protect the earth. “At the heart of ‘Agenda 2030,’” the UNGC states, “are the Sustainable Development Goals which clearly define the world we want – applying to all nations and leaving no one behind” (Agenda 2030).
From creating affordable and clean energy to advocating for responsible consumption and an end to corruption, these global goals are the culmination of an inclusive process involving governments, corporations, organizations, and civilians.
In an effort to bring leaders in these fields together to discuss how best to move forward in building a brighter tomorrow, the UNGC hosted a monumental Leaders Summit in spring of 2016.
Fairware and the UNGC Leaders Summit: Commitment to Sustainability
From 22 June to 23 June 2016, the United Nations will host a leadership summit in New York aimed at exploring the role of corporate sustainability in a prosperous future economy beneficial to all global citizens, not just a few elite stakeholders.
At the summit, world leaders in government and business will convene to discuss environmental and social responsibility in the corporate sector. In order to actively demonstrate the organization’s dedication to the SDGs, the event planners sourced sustainable event merchandise through Fairware. By showcasing products that reflect the SDGs, the event tangibly exhibited their commitment to sustainability.
Fairware provide the conference with recycled PET lanyards made in the USA, RPET tote bags made in the USA, and pens factory-audited for international social compliance. Beyond the conference, however, there are many ways you, too, participate.
What can I do to help?
From updating transportation infrastructure to lobbying for human rights advocacy, there are plenty of ways to get involved in implementing the UN Global Compact’s SDGs. Check out their website to learn more about the guiding Ten Principles, the SDGs, and the various issues demanding global attention.
Signing up for the Bulletin gives you access to numerous engagement opportunities and general updates. You can also download the Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership, which outlines criteria for leadership in applying the ten principles to business operations and more.
From detailed reports to helpful guides for determining how your business or organization can best contribute to advancing the SDGs, the UNGC’s Library is a comprehensive resource for getting started or taking the next step toward embodying sustainability.
There are many actions you can take as an individual, team member, or business leader. These include asking stock markets to issue accessible voluntary reporting guidance, underlining the value of sustainability to your investors, investing in responsible development yourself, and partnering with like-minded leaders to affect greater change. You can also browse regionally-specific companies and initiatives uniting to enact the SDGs and Principles. There are even more resources here.
Through guided leadership from organizations like the United Nations Global Compact, companies and individuals alike can more clearly envision and create a future of abundance and justice for people around the world. Creative partnerships between responsible businesses and these reputable organizations, like the collaboration of UNGC and Fairware, are shining examples of how we can make an even bigger difference when we work together.