UN Global Compact Defines New Level of Ambition for Corporate Sustainability

The UN Global Compact is challenging companies to align with an initial set of business benchmarks to gauge whether their activities are aiming at the necessary level of ambition to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

By translating the SDGs into specific business targets, the new global benchmarks call on companies to set sufficiently ambitious goals that can rapidly accelerate progress. They are a part of the UN Global Compact SDG Ambition initiative, launched in January 2020 at Davos by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and discussed at the UN Global Compact Board Meeting today.

The UN Global Compact Board met one week ahead of the 20th anniversary UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on 15 and 16 June at which German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Presidents Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ethiopia will join 23 Chief Executive Officers and more than a dozen UN chiefs to address the private sector’s response to COVID-19, inequality and the climate crisis. More than 11,000 participants have registered to attend.

“Already COVID-19 threatens decades of progress made towards achieving the world’s Sustainable Development Goals of lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and to protect our planet for future generations. As we build back better from the pandemic, in an inclusive and sustainable way, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve the world’s goals in a more meaningful and lasting way,” Mr. Guterres told the Board. “But we cannot do it unless everyone plays their part. We cannot do it without the private sector. Business must deliver on their commitments to the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and the global benchmarks for companies to achieve their part in delivering the world we all want.”

The initial set of benchmarks include:

  • Gender balance across all levels of management
  • Zero discharge of pollutants and hazardous chemicals
  • Net-positive water impact in water-stressed basins
  • Zero waste to landfill and incineration
  • 100% resource recovery, with all materials and products recovered and recycled or re-used at end of life
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduction in line with a 1.5°C pathway
  • Zero incidences of bribery

“SDG Ambition: Introducing Business Benchmarks for the Decade of Action” will be released at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, and will encourage more ambitious action by companies on additional issues including living wage, deforestation and the circular economy. Over the coming months, the UN Global Compact invites feedback from business and non-industry stakeholders to help further refine these benchmarks and their associated implementation tools.

SDG Ambition, a partnership with Accenture and SAP, aims to enable the world’s leading companies to embrace ambitious targets and advance the integration of the SDGs into core business management, business processes and information technology landscapes.

“We are confronting global challenges like never before. The path forward depends on identifying opportunities where business intersects with the SDGs, coming together to innovate new solutions to take us forward,” said UN Global Compact CEO and Executive Director Lise Kingo. “By calling on all companies to publicly share goals aligned with global benchmarks, this framework has the potential to genuinely accelerate progress and deliver transformational change. The role of business leaders as champions for these efforts will be critical in mainstreaming ambitious action on the SDGs for companies everywhere.”

Learn more about the global benchmarks and the SDG Ambition initiative: www.unglobalcompact.org/take-action/sdg-ambition

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