Chief executives from companies around the world have endorsed a United Nations roadmap designed to scale up corporate involvement in advancing sustainability efforts and tackling global challenges such as climate change, water and food.
The Building the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture was drawn up by the UN and presented to business leaders as well as representatives from government, civil society and labor attending the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York last Friday. The summit and the “architecture for engagement” aims to set the stage for businesses to shape and advance an agenda once the 2015 deadline for achieving the so-called Millennium Development Goals has passed.
The roadmap formalizes three broad programs focused on agriculture, education and peace. The programs complement existing UN Global Compact platforms on climate, energy, water, anti-corruption, children’s rights and women’s empowerment.
The UN Global Compact, which specifically seeks to partner with businesses, began in 2000. At that time, UN-business ties were scarce, the UN says. Today, it’s the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative with the participation of 8,000 companies and 4,000 civil society organizations from 145 countries, the UN says.
Despite the increased participation, enthusiasm appears to be waning, according to a CEO survey on sustainability released during the summit.
The survey, conducted by Accenture and the UN Global Compact, found most companies are not integrating social, environmental and governance issues into their core business strategies. More than two-thirds of CEOs in the study (67 percent) believe business is not doing enough to address global sustainability challenges.
While 84 percent believe business should lead the way in addressing those challenges, CEOs in the survey cited a number of barriers including a lack of financial resources and a failure to make a link between sustainability and business value.
Earlier this year, UN Global Compact expelled 99 companies in the first half of 2013 for failure to communicate progress for at least two consecutive years. The 99 global companies represent 3 percent of the 3,288 participants due to submit a communication on progress (COP) within the first six months of 2013.
During the same period, 2,233 companies did submit a COP, of which 130 achieved the GC Advanced level, which the Global Compact says is an unprecedented number reflecting an increased commitment to transparency.