27 January 2007

What is the UN Global Compact?

With over 3000 participants in over 100 countries the Global Compact (GC) is now the largest voluntary Corporate Citizenship initiative in the world. Corporate Citizenship is a more "UN-formal" expression for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and closely related to Sustainable Development. The idea was born by Kofi Annan with the vision of a "more sustainable and inclusive global economy", and recently re-endorsed by Ban Ki-Moon.
"Let us choose to unite the power of markets with the authority of universal ideals. Let us choose to reconcile the creative forces of private entrepreneurship with the needs of the disadvantaged and the requirements of future generations".
Kofi Annan
The GC has two objectives: 1) Make the 10 principles part of business strategy, operations and culture everywhere and 2) Facilitate partnerships toward UN goals such as the MDGs. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative including prticipants from business, civil society (NGOs), governments / UN and labour. At the heart of the GC are 10 universal principles in the areas of:
  • Human Rights
  • Labour Conditions
  • Environment
  • Anti-Corruption
The GC participants range from Coca Cola, Microsoft to SME in developing countries, through all sectors and countries. The GC has local networks around the world and is managed out of the Global Compact Office in the UNHQ. Soon I am going to write what I exactly do there...

This PowerPoint file gives a good overview: Global Compact Presentation

15 January 2007

Ban Ki-Moon: "The UN and business need each other - UN Global Compact at center."

Last week the new head of the UN Ban Ki-Moon delivered an important speech for the Global Compact where he commited to carry forward the initiative which got started 7 years ago by Kofi Annan.

In his first speech outside of the United Nations as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the global business community and the United Nations share many of the same goals, such as supporting strong economies and giving people the opportunity to make a living. Although the business world tends to focus on profit while the UN aims more for peace, better health and human rights, "the United Nations and business need each other," Ban told the Business Council for the United Nations and the Association for a Better New York.
"At the center of the Organization's engagement with business is the United Nations Global Compact. It brings together government, business, labour and civil society – both globally and locally based on the conviction that business practices rooted in universal values can help bring social and economic gains".
-- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, January 2007
Ban stressed that business, trade and investment are "essential pillars of peace and prosperity" , and confirmed that the United Nations must engage more fully with non-state actors in order to bring about a prosperous, more secure and peaceful world.

Link to Official Speech Transcript
Article in the The Guardian (London)

10 January 2007

2007 will be the warmest year ever

According to experts, it's likely that 2007 will exceed the current record from 1998 and therefore will be the warmest year ever tracked since temperature is measured since 1851.

The Stern Review on the economics of climate change states that all countries will be affected by climate change, but it is the poorest countries that will suffer earliest and most. Or is it not? According to the Financial Times, Australia is experiencing the effects of global warming more deeply than other parts of the world.

Have a look at Climate Change in depth.

Credits to Max Oliva from Instituto de Empresa Business School.

08 January 2007

Quote of Ghandi on Change

After it jumped several times into my eye now, I thought it's worth sharing with you:
"You should be the change that you want to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi

06 January 2007

The Economist on the United Nations

I read The Economist's for a few years now but the new issue of this week with a cover story about the United Nations is one of the most interesting ever.

That the magazine's editors chose not to tag a question mark at the end of the cover headline, "A Chance for a Safer World," tells you precisely where the package is going. Two of the special report's articles can be accessed for free, but the rest of the content is behind a subscription wall.

"And although the [US] is often the UN's harshest critic, it has come again to see the point of turning to the UN for help with problems - be they keeping the peace in Lebanon or saving lives in Darfur - it finds hard to solve alone." ... "[T]he permanent five could make the world safer and more orderly by showing a greater willingness to work together using the existing structure...All the big powers ought to see the benefit of making better use of the potential for joint, lawful international action that the UN uniquely provides."

Article partly taken from Mark Leon Goldberg from UN Dispatch.

05 January 2007

Top Corporate Social Responsibility News of 2006

CSRwire reports on the Top Corporate Social Responsibility News of 2006, closely related to my work at the UN Global Compact:

"Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) shifted from the periphery to the mainstream in 2005; in 2006 it dominated headlines and catapulted into the heart of our collective consciousness. CSR initiatives such as microfinance and "green" energy impacted lives and won allegiance--from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich to the sexiest of the sexy...

If 2006 had an official color, it was certainly "green," as "treehugging" transformed from a pejorative to an accolade. The "Al Gore movie"--the street name for An Inconvenient Truth,--raised mass awareness of the dangers of global warming... This year saw the launching of new CSR initiatives, such as the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment to promote socially responsible investing (SRI)...

Many companies also voluntarily implemented codes of conduct to guide ethical business decisions and responsible supply chain management. Gap and Nike continue to lead the pack on this front. Gap recently discontinued sourcing from 62 factories where the company discovered violations of its Code after inspecting some 4,500 factories worldwide. Nike dropped a Pakistani soccer ball supplier due to child labor concerns and other violations...."

Full article at CSRwire.

03 January 2007

Jeffrey Sachs and the UN Millennium Development Goals

Shortly before the holidays I attended a small press conference of Jeffrey Sachs, special UN adviser, on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Jeffrey is a kind of an idol for me because his book "The End of Poverty". He was highly inspirational for me to change my career from pure profit-making business into the development and social business segment. Therefore, I was superhappy when I had the chance to briefly chat with him and to take a picture!

Although his UN Millennium Plan might not be perfect he is fighting against poverty with great passion:
"These goals are not our normal kinds of goals, these are life and death goals."
Jeffrey Sachs
Here a great slideshow on the MDGs (recommended!).
Article on the press conference stating Jeffrey's optimism in achieving the MDGs
Finally and most important: Take action yourself to support the UN Millennium Campaign!

The Secretary-Generals

Kofi Annan: Outgoing SG
Ban Ki-Moon: New SG
JJ Nagler: No Title

Ban Ki-Moon started yesterday as the new Secretary-General and seems to have a good start. He spoke to us staff and said he wants to increase efficiency by focusing on meritocracy (I heard from some other young staff members on there frustrations about inefficiency).

Here an article on Ban Ki-Moon taking over.
Photo Credit for the left picture gos to UN Photo/Mark Garten (Photo # 134863).