The UN Global Compact has published a White Paper addressing the magnitude and range of business engagement, its accountability within the post-2015 development agenda, and how business can be a more positive force for sustainable development.
2 July 2014: The UN Global Compact has published a White Paper addressing the magnitude and range of business engagement, its accountability within the post-2015 development agenda, and how business can be a more positive force for sustainable development.
‘The Role of Business and Finance in Supporting the Post-2015 Agenda’ explains that: corporate leaders are beginning to understand the importance of integrating environmental and social risks and opportunities into their operations; given the ubiquitous nature of economic activity, business engagement will be critical for the UN to realize a scalable and transformative post-2015 development agenda; and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be “SMART” (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound).
The paper outlines five modalities for “unleashing the resources of business”: 1) empowering small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as social enterprises, so that they can benefit from the active involvement of local sustainability networks and fora; 2) forming partnerships to allow for pooling resources, sharing risks and overcoming systemic challenges for successful SDG implementation, and developing guidelines for public interest partnerships to ensure integrity and long-term efficacy of initiatives; 3) ensuring transparency and accountability through standardized measurements for benchmarking across companies, which would give stakeholders the necessary information to determine the impact of a company or sector on sustainable development priorities; 4) implementing enabling government policies, such as setting prices that reflect true costs and benefits (including a price on carbon), and applying sustainability criteria to bids from vendors and contractors to motivate businesses to adopt sustainability practices; and 5) redirecting private finance away from areas with negative externalities towards more sustainable ones, and assessing the positive social and environmental impacts of investments.
The paper also describes the development of a tool kit to support corporate measurement and goal setting, based on three principles: measuring a company’s current impacts on sustainable development areas, timely access to data, and determining which data is relevant, are critical for determining sustainability results and improving on them; building trust is necessary through the use of a recognized methodology that measures the impacts of actions, with transparency levels comparable to those of the public sector and civil society; and ensuring flexibility so the tool kit can cover the breadth of the SDGs and related targets, and can be used by big companies, as well as SMEs or farmer cooperatives.
The tool kit is scheduled for release in October 2015, and is to be aligned with the final SDGs. [Publication: The Role of Business and Finance in Supporting the Post-2015 Agenda]