Since its launch in July 2000, the Global Compact has grown to become the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Its more than 6,000 business participants in nearly 140 countries strive to implement universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Now, the first „Global Compact International Yearbook“ highlights major issues, among them climate change, water and ethics in the time of crisis.
The road to Copenhagen is the catchphrase: Climate Change is the top issue of inaugural edition, on the market since 1th of august 2009. In a very personal and exclusive foreword, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stresses the urgency of multilateral action: „One underlying message of this Yearbook is that a global, low-carbon economy is not only technologically possible, it makes good business sense“, said Ban. „We need the voice and energy of business to help us combat climate change.“
Sir Anthony Giddens adds the importance of the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Summit: „It is an important year, and everybody knows it because it is the year of Copenhagen. It’s a key for climate change policy. I do hope the Copenhagen negotiations will be successful, but there are reasons I have to be worried. “
Business will play a key role, argues Björn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development: „Business knows it will have to provide the lion’s share of the huge investment that will be needed. Many questions and issues remain, but we cannot allow these to block our path to a new climate regime. For example, we need to identify market mechanisms that will create a price for carbon that takes into account its true cost.“
How this can work will be the crucial question of the negociations. Basic intentions of a future political climate change architecture are shown by Robert O. Keohane and Kal Raustiala. The Princeton and UCLA experts say: „Any international regime aimed at the mitigation of climate change must solve three problems. It must: (1) secure sufficient participation to be effective; (2) achieve agreement on rules that are meaningful, so that if they were followed, climate change would indeed be mitigated; and (3) ensure compliance with the rules. That is, it must solve problems of participation, effectiveness, and compliance. “
Climate change is also a crucial context for an extensive debate covering the Water Issue: Filiz Demirayak (WWF Turkey) and José Lopez (Vice President Nestlé) have different opinions about water politics but are in complete agreement that every drop counts. „Every single day we consume between 2,000 and 6,000 litres of water through the food we consume, “ says José Lopez. „In this context, the defining challenge of the 21st century will be to transform the system governing markets so that they work for – rather than against – sustainability“, counters Filiz Demirayak. The CEO of the World Wildlife Fund in Turkey adds: „In the short term, we not only ´should´ but also ´must´ work together in order to survive in this living planet. “
Another key issue of this edition is the global economic crisis: 2008 will be remembered as the year of crises. The breakdown of financial institutions and markets and the subsequent worldwide economic downturn have put the spotlight on issues that the United Nations Global Compact has long advocated as essential responsibilities for modern business and today’s global markets: comprehensive risk management, long-term performance, and ethics. Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact, writes: „Restoring confidence and trust in markets requires a shift to long-term sustainable value creation, and corporate responsibility must be an instrument towards this end. If the crisis is any indication, it is now time to build on the advances made over the past 10 years by companies and investors in the area of ESG performance and bring this discipline to the mainstream. “
Andreas Suchanek, professor of of Sustainability and Global Ethics at the Leipzig Graduate School of Management adds: „Ethics, in the form of a shared basic understanding of “right” values, such as dignity, freedom, justice, etc., are the foundation of the social market economy. “
Further highlights are an in-depth interview with Georg Kell and a vivid reportage of the Global Compact Office in New York, a backround story about the foundation of the Emirates Network as well as a substantial news section. Best practice examples from 32 companies all around the world demonstrate how the ten principles of the Global Compact are realized in daily business and particular projects.