UN Global Compact: helping businesses change the world


By Suzi Kondic

The pressures that today’s businesses face are intense, perhaps more intense than ever. Not only do modern businesses have to deal with classic economic stresses, but they’re also up against dwindling natural resources, an unprecedented reliance on technology, and general climate instability. Given that these risk factors come in an age of governmental gridlock, the challenges to business development in 2015 can seem daunting. But, as last week’s UN Global Compact conference and report reaffirmed, these challenges can be met and overcome by working together.

The United Nations Global Compact initiative celebrated its 15th anniversary this past weekend with the rollout of a brand new website and series of reports. What started as an idea shared by forty companies is now the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, bringing together:

  • 12,000 signatories
  • Representation from 170 countries (out of the UN’s 193)
  • 1.8% of the global economy
  • 4,000 nonbusiness organizations
  • 8,000 companies
  • Approximately 25% of the Fortune500

They represent every global sector and operate in varying degrees of economic development, but each signatory recognizes that the problems our global society faces require unprecedented collaboration.
ModelThe UN Global Compact is a leadership platform designed to create a global space for that collaboration. This initiative is a call for global businesses to fill the gap between the UN’s guiding principles that exist in theory, and the lack of governmental support for them in reality. In particular, the Global Compact focuses on ten UN Principles that participants agree to abide by. Four of the ten focus on labor rights, and three focus on the environment.

The newly launched website is set to better support participants by helping them come together, share ideas, and form partnerships. Out of these partnerships comes the chance for companies to create, grow, and scale sustainable solutions. The website also offers guidance, best leadership practices, and a library of resources for spreading sustainability across the globe. Taken from the mission page of the website, the UN Global Compact aims to support all companies, “ whether beginners on the sustainability journey or recognized champions, to meet their commitments to operate responsibly and support society.”

Sound familiar? Since 2010, LifeCity has been meeting New Orleans’ businesses where they are and helping take them to the next level of sustainability through our certification and membership programs. It is comforting to know that the work we do to guide our local companies towards achieving sustainability goals is being mirrored all over the world. The UN Global Compact is delivering a call to action for the planet’s businesses to help shape a more sustainable future. Your business can be a part of that future, and LifeCity can help.