UN Global Compact Report Highlights Local Networks’, Businesses’ Contributions to SDGs
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The paper focuses on five areas of business engagement: awareness raising, capacity building, recognizing leadership, policy dialogue and multi-stakeholder partnerships.

It features more than 30 country examples of Local Network-led initiatives.

The paper was discussed at an HLPF side event titled, ‘SDG Country Plans: A Roadmap to Private Investment,’ which served to launch the publication.

18 July 2018: Launched in the margins of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a UN Global Compact publication shows how Local Networks can engage businesses and investors to help close SDG achievement gaps. The document titled, ‘Global Compact Local Networks: Accelerating National SDG Implementation,’ describes outputs from 69 Local Networks highlighting the opportunities for both business and for impact.

The document features examples from Local Networks in more than 30 countries, looking at five areas of systematic business engagement: awareness raising, capacity building, recognizing leadership, policy dialogue and multi-stakeholder partnerships. It emphasizes that these areas are interlinked and build on each other, as a business would be unable to successfully engage in policy dialogues or partnerships without first understanding the SDGs or their implications. The paper also underscores the local nature of change, noting that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 95% of firms operating primarily in national markets.

On businesses’ understanding of SDG risks and opportunities, the paper stresses that they first must make sure they “are not part of the problem” or detracting from SDG progress. In Portugal, a Social Responsibility Week was convened on the theme ‘Sustainability and Competitiveness.’ Events held over the course of the week, the paper notes, articulated the case for using the SDGs as a catalyst for innovation, particularly in SMEs.

The five attributes of leadership are intentionality, ambition, consistency, collaboration and ambition.

To build capacity and mainstream a principle-based approach to the SDGs, UN Global Compact Local Networks have leveraged recently-launched tools such as the Blueprint for SDG Leadership and SDG Compass to facilitate learning exchanges and share best practices on internalizing the Goals within core business strategies. The paper describes how the Global Compact Network in Brazil has developed a local methodology to implement the SDG Compass, and notes that, overall, Local Networks organized an estimated 800 capacity-building activities and events in 2017, reaching nearly 7,500 companies.

The paper summarizes five attributes of leadership: intentionality, ambition, consistency, collaboration and ambition. The Global Compact Network in Switzerland produced a documentary on such leadership, demonstrating how SDG leadership and storytelling can trigger companies to change business practices.

On engaging responsible business on national SDG action plans and policies, the UN Global Compact describes how Local Networks often work with relevant UN Country Teams to coordinate multi-dimensional support, including through cross-sectoral dialogues and contributions to Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) presented at the HLPF.

On facilitating collaboration and collective action, the publication notes the trend of increasing engagement across stakeholder groups. In Italy, an initiative known as “Unchain the Chain” is helping companies manage their supply chains in congruence with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact as well as the SDGs. The project features a self-assessment questionnaire, an incentive structure to engage suppliers, training packages on human rights and anti-corruption practices, and a web platform to promote and share best practices.

The paper was discussed at an HLPF side event titled, ‘SDG Country Plans: A Roadmap to Private Investment,’ which served to launch the publication. Participants emphasized the importance of local government and spreading awareness on the need “to build a language and indicators for the private sector to deal with” the SDGs. The Secretary of State for the Brazilian state of Paraná, for example, noted that the local government has directed that all procurement spending go to companies that have an SDG strategy in place. [Publication: Global Compact Local Networks: Accelerating National SDG Implementation] [Report Landing Page] [Event Page: SDG Country Plans: A Roadmap to Private Investment] [Event Summary: Business and Investors “Crucial” to Delivering 2030 Agenda at the Country-level]


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