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Events

Joining efforts! UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2018

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UN Global Compact Leaders Summit – an annual flagship event of the initiative – took place in New York on 24 September 2018 under the motto ‘Joining Efforts for the World We Want’. The Summit traditionally makes part of more than a week-long programme built around the General Assembly of the United Nations. 

This year the UN Headquarters in New York once again brought the world leaders together to discuss an ambitious plan of making the world a better place, as stated in the 2030 Agenda. They noted progress on its promotion, increased involvement of many stakeholders, new partnership level between governments, business and a society, and also highlighted that key global problems haven’t lost their topicality. 

We’re still observing growing inequality, widespread violations of human rights, increased competition for limited resources and growing human, environmental and economic consequences of climate change. At the same time, when being united is that crucial, societies are becoming more fragmented, tension and conflicts keep developing. No nation or industry is able to handle these problems in isolation, and now is time to act together. 

To discuss role of business in this joint work at the platform of the UN Global Compact, there came together more than 120 representatives of an international community of business leaders, investor groups, governments and civil society. Summitdiscussionwasstructuredaccordingtothematicdirections. 

One of them was the CEO Roundtable, titled “Closing the Inequality Gap — Human Rights as a Driver for Successful Business”, which brought together a select and diverse group of global business leaders with top decision makers from the UN to take stock of progress towards the Global Goals. Participants were to consider the most pressing gaps and biggest opportunities for business based on key findings from the UN Global Compact 2018 Progress Report. The CEO Roundtable provided an opportunity for top executives to discuss critical global priorities, explore partnership opportunities, share ground-breaking commitments and reach consensus on the path forward for the private sector to deliver greater impact. Out of practical cases presented, French Total launched a joint initiative with BP, Equinor and Shell to elaborate an approach to assessing suppliers from the human rights perspective, and Kenian Melvin Marsh announced the launch of a thematic accelerator for young women, etc. 

Another essential thematic direction is investing in sustainability, and it was discussed during the UN Private Sector Forum – ‘Building and Investing in Peace for All’, which made a part of the UN Leaders Summit. Convened by Secretary-General António Guterres, the 2018 UN Private Sector Forum was aimed at providing an important opportunity for business leaders to join key Heads of State and UN Principals at the table for high-level discussions on peace, a major agenda item of the 73rd regular session of the UN General Assembly. The UN Private Sector Forum featured high-level roundtable discussions between leaders from business, Government, civil society and the UN as well as keynote speeches and an intimate fireside chat to kick-off the discussions. 

In 2018, participants could join the peacebuilding initiatives, including ‘Business for Peace’ platform, The Connecting Business initiative (CBi), ’20-20-20’ partnership, etc. Apart from demonstration of general support CEOs also made statements (e.g. Microsoft announced launch of the initiative ‘Artificial Intelligence for Humanitarian Action’, Unilever, on behalf of all participants of the action platform ‘Decent Work in Global Supply Chains’ announced issue of the report, SINOMACH, a Chinese national machinery corporation, presented a programme ‘CEOs Attention to Poverty Issues). 

During the Forum there was an official announcement of a new action platformlaunch to support the SDG 16 ‘Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions’ (B4P). According to the UN GC report, only 22% of companies take action towards this SDG and reflect it in its reporting, A new platform is a two-year programme aimed at elaborating corporate reporting standards, related to the SDG 16, formation of understanding and integration of principles, allowing business to contribute to existence of strong and fair institutions. Baker & McKenzie, Nestle, Eni areamongthefirstparticipants. 

"The UN Global Compact in Action – Driving Progress and Scaling Impact"was a session where highly engaged UN Global Compact Participants and partners, alongside leading experts shared practical insights drawn from their participation across our range of programmatic engagement opportunities. The session further explored the creative intersections between the identified themes in our portfolio of Action Platforms and the newly launched UN Global Compact Academy. The agenda of the session included a detailed look of some of the forward-looking solutions and progress made by the most engaged UN Global Compact Participants across the Ten Principles and Global Goals. For the full agenda of the session, please see the full overview below.

During the Summit, new Global Compact publications were released:

·      UN Global Compact Progress Report 2018,providing an assessment of how companies in the UN Global Compact are adopting the Ten Principles and taking action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Its adapted version is presented in the Second Issueof the UN Global Compact Russian Digest ‘Impact Style’. 

·      Building Peace and Prosperity: What Business Can Do, providing a list of concrete actions that different stakeholder groups — including business, the investor community, Governments, the UN and civil society — can take to scale up business action and investment in high-risk areas.

·      Decent Work in Global Supply Chains — A Baseline Report,summarizing data of bilateral interviews with supply chain, procurement, and sustainability executives of companies that participate in the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains. The report presents insights into some of the key challenges and opportunities that companies face in their efforts to develop more sustainable procurement strategies. 

·      SDG Bonds & Corporate Finance: A Roadmap to Mainstream Investments, introducing a roadmap for mainstream SDG bonds and corporate SDG finance to tap into the largest assets classes and respond to the specific financing challenges in emerging markets. 

UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2018 programme is availablehere

Articles & Interviews

António Guterres. UN must lead ‘surge in diplomacy’

Elena Feoktistova. Farther away from the brink

Diplomat in swimming costume. Icy reception by Lewis Pugh

Ivana Modena. Sustainable development is a holistic way of life.