Regional meeting of UNGC Local Networks, bringing together representatives of Europe, Middle East and North America, in 2018 took place in Dubrovnik on October 21 – 24 by the initiative and with the support of the UNGC Local Network Croatia.
Local Networks meeting are traditionally preceded by thematic conferences. The one in Dubrovnik was called ‘Sustainability- Future of Business’ and was run jointly by the GC Local Network Croatia and Croatian Employers' Association (HUP), president of which, Gordana Deranja, made an opening speech: ‘Combatting global challenges should include efforts of all the stakeholders: governments, private sector, civil society. Today business should not make a choice between profit and sustainability, because these two categories do not contradict each other. Without responsible practice, no company can expect to be successful in the long term. To be successful tomorrow, we need to be socially responsible today’.
The conference had several panel discussions (Future of Work, Investing in Sustainability, Environment protection), in which governmental officials of Croatia took part (Darko Horvat, Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education, Domagoj Ivan Milošević, Croatian Parliament, European Affairs Committee), thus highlighting support to the Global Compact and its values at the highest level.
We are proud that in our country the topic of sustainable development is evolving at a high pace. Global Compact is a very important platform for solving social, environmental and political problems. We must make coordinated strategic decisions, corresponding to environmental and political interests. National Sustainable Development Council coordinates the topic at the heist governmental level, but we still need to target the full integration of the agenda at all levels.
Darko Horvat, Minister of Economy, Entrepreneurship and Crafts
We have already launched significant reforms at a labour market. We believe that the time to act is now, we do not have time to wait for ideal conditions when migration processes slow down, or demography improves. In sustainability, people are the most important resource, and we should continuously have it in mind, Human relations have a decisive meaning, that’s why investing in people is crucial.
Blaženka Divjak, Minister of Science and Education
Among the conference participants, there were leading experts and business community representatives (Jacek Krawczyk, EESC, President of the Employers´ Group, Alan Rousso, EBRD, Managing Director, External Relations and Partnerships, Josip Funda, World Bank, Senior Country Economist), as-well as top-managers of large companies and international corporations (Atlantic Grupa, Mars Multisales Baltics Balkan Adriatic, Rimac automobili, Coca-Cola, Tehnix, etc.).
The discussion included both methodological (e.g. World Bank is intended to finance achieving the SDGs in developing countries and annually invests about 70 bln US dollars in socially responsible and vital initiatives), and practical components of achieving sustainable future and the SDGs, including attracting young leaders of changes, resources for sustainable business growth, and business solutions for the SDGs (investment in projects of rational water use, limiting use of plastic, waste treatments, introducing solar power plants, etc).
Regional meeting of UNGC Local Networks there were presented a working plan of the Local Networks Council, out of the priorities of which are improving relations with related initiatives – PRI, PRME, Cities Programme, etc., developing quality standards for GC Local Networks, enforcing interaction with public authorities, presenting results of LNs survey on key areas of action and strategies (financial, operational, informational, etc.). During the thematic sessions LNs examples in different areas were presented, such as media relations, thematic events, coordination of the SDGs support, etc.
In our country broad public is not yet ready to discuss sustainability. Media lacks theoretical background, so it is not fully able to speak about general aspects or very broad topics. That is why we formed a different approach, according to which we’re trying to avoid general discussions and to speak in a simple and clear way. We formulate agenda of events with very specific and narrow topics, such as ‘combatting gender inequality’. Now we fell the necessity of hosting educational trainings for media on sustainable development, SDGs and more specific issues. Lack of knowledge always weighs upon the emerging interest.
Global Compact Local Network Georgia
This year we decided to organize a large-scale conference on human rights, formed existing and busy programme. Though when we started inviting representatives of small and medium business, we realized that we set the bar too high – most of them couldn’t understand the language we spoke, they did not know terms, key provisions and concepts. Then we decided to hold several educational trainings on different directions, and it was successful: we indeed managed to increase knowledge on human rights. At the same time, we launched a media campaign: every week we published in different sources quotes of large business leaders on their success or human rights programmes and launched our own blog.
Global Compact Local Network Denmark
We are always trying to start our relations with a company from understanding, at which point it currently stands in terms of sustainability. Depending on its current projects, plans for several years ahead, resources and interests, we build a strategy of our interaction. One of our recent projects has been an educational platform for school teachers. Together with companies, marking SDG 4 as a priority, we create a platform allowing teachers to acquire new skills and knowledge for free. The platform is fully financed by the companies, which want to contribute to its development.
Global Compact Local Network Portugal