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UN Global Compact Annual Review Highlights Progress Made, Identifies Gaps in Corporate Responsibility Practice

Submitted by: United Nations Global Compact

Categories: Research, Reports & Publications, Corporate Governance

Posted: Apr 08, 2009 – 09:00 AM EST

 

NEW YORK, NY. - 8 April 2009 - As the global economic crisis highlights the need for long-term-sustainability and business ethics, corporations around the world are making progress in adopting responsible business practices. Yet, serious implementation gaps remain, particularly in supply chain management and subsidiary engagement. These are some of the key findings of the United Nations’ largest-ever corporate responsibility survey, presented today at the launch of the UN Global Compact Annual Review 2008.

Based on survey responses from more than 700 Global Compact business participants in 90 countries, the Review measured and analyzed the extent and depth of corporate engagement in the world’s largest voluntary corporate responsibility initiative.

Indicating heightened interest in the management of environmental, social and governance challenges, participation in the Global Compact rose to a record high in 2008. 1,473 new businesses joined the initiative – a 30-percent increase over the previous year –, bringing the total number of business in the Global Compact to over 5,000 in more than 130 countries. Noteworthy is the growing engagement of companies in China and India. Both now rank among the top ten countries by total number of participants.

More companies than ever before are now disclosing their practices under the Global Compact’s unique mandatory disclosure framework, also known as the Communication on Progress (COP). More than 1700 COPs were submitted in 2009, marking a 25 percent increase over 2007. At the same time, more than 400 business participants were delisted in 2008 for repeated failure to communicate progress, bringing the total number of companies removed from the Global Compact to over 800.

While participating businesses have taken action on a broad range of individual issue areas, the survey reveals serious deficits in engaging corporate supply chains: Only seven percent of respondents currently require suppliers to join the Global Compact, while 27 percent reference the initiative in supplier contracts. Likewise, only 30 percent of companies with subsidiaries require them to implement the Global Compact and its principles and assess progress made.

A growing number of corporations have emerged as sustainability leaders, taking a proactive stand on pertinent challenges. Consequently, the Global Compact’s special engagement platforms on climate change and water have seen steady growth in signatories in 2008. More than 300 companies now support Caring for Climate, while the CEO Water Mandate has been endorsed by nearly 50 businesses committed to water sustainability.

"The fallout of the financial crisis has put a spotlight on issues that the United Nations Global Compact has long advocated as essential responsibilities for the modern corporation," said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact. "The Annual Review 2008 underscores the Global Compact's positive contribution to the worldwide diffusion of responsible business practices. However, companies everywhere must do much more to ensure that environmental, social and governance challenges are understood and properly addressed. For corporate responsibility to deliver tangible results, suppliers and subsidiaries must be made part of the equation."

About the United Nations Global Compact

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 and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With over 5,000 signatories in more than 130 countries, it is the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative.

More info: www.unglobalcompact.org

Note to Editors:
The Global Compact Annual Review will be presented and discussed by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact, at the UN Spokesperson's daily noon briefing (12noon to 12:45pm ET) on 8 April 2009 (Room S-226, UN Headquarters, New York).

The noon briefing will be broadcast live via webcast on www.un.org/webcast/. Non-accredited journalists wishing to attend the noon briefing in person must first seek accreditation from the United Nations Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (www.un.org/media/accreditation/liaison.htm).

For more information, please contact:

Gavin Power UN Global Compact
Phone: +1-212-963-4681
Phone 2: +1-917-679-8144
Matthias Stausberg UN Global Compact
Phone: +1-917-367-3423
Phone 2: +1-917-214-1337

For more from this organization:

United Nations Global Compact

 

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