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The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rightslabour, environment and anti-corruption. By doing so, business, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.

As social, political and economic challenges (and opportunities) — whether occurring at home or in other regions — affect business more than ever before, many companies recognize the need to collaborate and partner with governments, civil society, labour and the United Nations. This ever-increasing understanding is reflected in the Global Compact's rapid growth. With over 12,000 corporate participants and other stakeholders from over 145 countries, it is the largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative in the world. Endorsed by chief executives, the Global Compact is a practical framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of sustainability policies and practices, offering participants a wide spectrum of workstreams, management tools and resources — all designed to help advance sustainable business models and markets.

The UN Global Compact works toward the vision of a sustainable and inclusive global economy which delivers lasting benefits to people, communities, and markets.

To help realize this vision, the initiative seeks to:

  1. Mainstream the Global Compact’s Ten Principles in business strategy and operations around the world; and
  2. Catalyze business action in support of UN goals and issues, with emphasis on collaboration and collective action.

The benefits of engagement include the following:  

  • Adopting an established and globally recognized policy framework for the development, implementation, and disclosure of environmental, social, and governance policies and practices.
  • Sharing best and emerging practices to advance practical solutions and strategies to common challenges.
  • Advancing sustainability solutions in partnership with a range of stakeholders, including UN agencies, governments, civil society, labour, and other non-business interests.
  • Linking business units and subsidiaries across the value chain with the Global Compact's Local Networks around the world — many of these in developing and emerging markets.
  • Accessing the United Nations' extensive knowledge of and experience with sustainability and development issues.
  • Utilizing UN Global Compact management tools and resources, and the opportunity to engage in specialized workstreams in the environmental, social and governance realms.

 To learn more about the benefits of participation, please click on this link The Importance of Voluntarism

Finally, the Global Compact incorporates a transparency and accountability policy known as the Communication on Progress (COP). The annual posting of a COP is an important demonstration of a participant's commitment to the UN Global Compact and its principles. Participating companies are required to follow this policy, as a commitment to transparency and disclosure is critical to the success of the initiative. Failure to communicate will result in a change in participant status and possible expulsion.

In summary, the Global Compact exists to assist the private sector in the management of increasingly complex risks and opportunities in the environmental, social and governance realms, seeking to embed markets and societies with universal principles and values for the benefit of all.

Key Documents:

Core UN Agencies: