On October 18, Russian UNGC Local Network and UN Information Center in Moscow organized a joint roundtable devoted to celebrate the 70th UN Anniversary in Russia and to the topic of Russian business cooperation with the worldwide Organization.
UN Global Compact is not only an initiative and a business platform, but also an intermediary for private sector, business and the UN system. UNGC Local Network believes that this role needs to be strengthened in order to better understand in what way Russian business can collaborate with the UN outside the platform of the initiative – certain UN agencies, under the framework of joint national or global programmes, etc.; to better understand the diversity of new opportunities and to form jointly clear algorithms, to exchange information in a more intense way, to structure and distribute it. UN agencies and programmes open for cooperation work in Russia and internationally. Directly – and, especially, through such specialized platform as the UNGC. Despite that, Russian business is still insufficiently presented at many international platform – though there are less barriers than it is believed. After adopting common values and trends, it is crucial to concentrate at specific directions, algorithms, forms and examples of partnership with the UN.
‘It is indeed the main objective of our meeting’, confirmed Marina Vashukova, Executive Director of the Association ‘National Network of the Global Compact’. ‘We are planning to run a so-called inventory, to gain better understanding on interconnections, to do mapping, to form a partnership passport for business and the UN. Partnership Passport is the name of one of the UNGC projects, due to which the platform UN Business Action Hub is launched.
Already, using this platform companies can engage in a dialogue with the UN, to exchange information, to change its form of participation in the UN programmes, to offer support, to publish information, to study cases of other companies, etc. Examples of such cooperation can be found in one of the digests of the UNGC Local Network, which is useful also to understand what it provides to all parties, not only to the UN or to those supported to the UN, and why it is also a factor of business development’.
Over the past few years, the UN has been actively offering to business new opportunities, promoting new forms of cooperation with business, including it into an immediate circle of sustainability drivers: a new era of UN – business partnership has come. On behalf of the UN and its country team, Vladimir Kuznetsov, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow shared some details on peculiarities of this era and the role of the Global Compact: ‘Partnership is extending both in terms of quantity and quality, it is continuously complemented with new initiatives: on human rights, non-financial reporting, etc. Joint work takes place at various platform. Global Compact in Russia is actively developing, it is taking firm strides, and we are ready to provide you with all-round support’.
Out of the participants and guests of the meeting, there were directors and sustainability managers of leading Russian and international companies, experts and partners of business associations, consulting agencies, UN programmes, etc. The speakers have managed to map a wide range of interconnected directons of targeted partnership, and to suggest key discussion topics, such as fundamental basis for UN – Russian business cooperation, SDGs as a partnership agenda, algorithms, forms and examples of partnership with the UN, nature-like technologies in the context of universal sustainable industrial development, business and human rights as a sustainability factor, influence of the UN sustainability agenda on investment and finance market transformation, experience of involving business into SDGs achievement at the example of leading countries, etc.
The discussion was supported by public authorities (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation). Their representatives confirmed topicality of the issue.
‘Russia was one of the originators of the Agenda 2030, according to which every country should report on achieving SDGs and its progress’, stated Pyotr Ilyichev, Director of the Department of International Organizations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ‘We have to present such a report by 2020, and I call on everyone to join the process of creating a report, which will be coordinated by the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation. Our companies have what to say, and what to be proud of’.
During the discussion, participants presented experience and examples of efficient cooperation between various UN agencies and programmes and business (UNCTAD, UN-Environment, OHCHR-Russia joint project, ILO, IOE, etc.).
Elena Feoktistova, Managing Director of RSPP (Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs) on corporate responsibility, sustainable development and social entrepreneurship, described main directions and principles of integration of Russian business into the UN sustainability agenda. ‘Decent work and economic growth, health and well-being, economic security and climate are traditionally relevant for business issues. It is necessary to involve Russian business into international discussions for it to share experience. One of the most important values of the UN Global Compact is an opportunity to participate in work of high-level international platform on different topics. One more relevant platform is, for instance, International Labour Organization, which runs landmark for the labour industry events, in which Russian company can and should participate in order to implement decent labour policies in presence countries. In 2019, ILO will host an anniversary conference, which will also include a business conference. In February ILO conference on the platform ‘Labour Future’ wil ltake place in Ufa. This an similar event are great opportunities to share expertise. One should not forget that ILO also has country programmes, in which companies can participate. One more partnership is currently developing at the platform of the International Organization of Employers, with which we will work in the context of the SDGs, and it means that Russian business is being heard.’
Russian business leaders illustrated their involvement into 2030 Agenda by cases and examples (there were presented priorities of UC ‘Rusal’ climate policy, practices and values of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development of business under the SDGs framework of Severstal, MMC ‘Norilsk Nickel’, etc.). EffieRussia presented an overview of integrating SDGs into a communication of global and local brands. Large auditing and consulting agencies, working with business directly on the topics of efficiency, risks mitigation, strategic development are involved into the global agenda, and to the same extent as the UN facilitates its promotion in business and in business practices, confirmed representatives of FBK Grand Thornton, Deloitte, PwC and KPMG.
This year the discussion will continue on its specific aspects, for example to celebrate the 70thanniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights jointly with RSPP, and based on a signed Agreement on cooperation between the Association ‘National Network of the Global Compact’ and the National Council of Corporate Volunteering, aimed at development of Russian corporate volunteering programmes for the SDGs, as said Irina Zhukova, the Chair of the Council.
Following the discussion results, the UNGC Local Network Russia will prepare a short guidance for Russian business ‘UN and Russian Business: Framework and Prospects for Cooperation’, which in a consolidated form will present discussion results and forms, programmes and opportunities for joint work that will be confirmed as most relevant and engaging.