Top Executives Meet with UN Secretary-General to Mark Successes, Future of Sustainability Leadership Platform

Leading companies seize chance to help structure post-2015 development agenda, launch programme to address role of corporate boards in sustainability
Jan 25, 2013 2:00 PM ET
Press Release

DAVOS, 25 January 2013, /3BL Media/ – Leading executives met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today in Davos to mark the close of the pilot phase of Global Compact LEAD and a new beginning for the sustainability leadership platform. The meeting provided an historic opportunity to help place corporate sustainability and private sector-led solutions at the center of a new global development architecture as targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire in 2015.

During the luncheon event co-hosted with the Swiss Government and the Global Compact Local Network Switzerland, the Secretary-General thanked LEAD companies for their commitment and urged them to continue to pave the way for the next generation of corporate sustainability performance. “The world is searching for solutions. By embedding sustainability into your company, you are helping to lead the way to a better future,” he said.

Business leaders and high-level UN representatives engaged in interactive discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and the important role that CEOs of LEAD companies can play in positioning corporate sustainability as a transformative force. Themes covered by potential replacement Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as agreed to by Member States during last year’s Rio+20 Conference, would influence global priorities for years to come. Top candidates for priority issues voiced during today’s meeting cluster around climate change, water, energy, food and employment.

“The post-2015 development agenda offers a historic chance,” said the Secretary-General. “It holds the promise of bringing government consensus on global sustainable development priorities, and allowing business to contribute for the benefits of all.”

Launched by the Secretary-General in Davos in January 2011, Global Compact LEAD has enabled the most committed and engaged Global Compact participants to shape the future of corporate sustainability. Participants have undertaken an ambitious agenda on priority topics, including Board adoption and oversight; partnerships and collective action; transparency and disclosure; and subsidiary engagement, particularly in emerging markets.

In exploring the critical role that corporate Boards play in aligning governance practices with social and environmental performance, LEAD companies also launched a programme to facilitate a strategic, business-oriented discussion of corporate sustainability among Board members. Consisting of interactive modules that are delivered by professional facilitators during Board meetings or retreats, the LEAD Board Programme will equip Board members to better manage reputational and operational risks, and unlock the value of corporate sustainability activities in the companies they oversee.

Additional reports launched in coordination with today’s event include the following:

  • Enhancing Company-Investor Communication: Insights from the ESG Investor Briefing Project provides an overview of lessons learned and recommended next steps for the ESG Investor Briefing Series. Launched in 2012 through Global Compact LEAD, the series is designed to improve company-investor communications on environmental, social and governance (ESG) information, and improve the ability of financial markets to properly value sustainability performance.
  • Growing Into Your Sustainability Commitments previews research conducted by AccountAbility, in partnership with the Global Compact, to establish best practices that assist companies in what sustainability commitments they should join, and how they can derive the most value and impact from these initiatives.

An independent review of the LEAD initiative during its two-year pilot phase, coordinated by the Academy of Business in Society (EABIS) and Ashridge Business School, has demonstrated strong support for continuation of the program with moderate growth beyond the inaugural 56 companies. The final assessment will be available online shortly.

About the United Nations Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 7,000 corporate signatories in 135 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.

Kristen Coco
UN Global Compact
+1 (917) 367-8566