Business Times

UN Global Compact picking up across the world

By Quintus Perera

Under Global Compact Sri Lanka, the first quarterly Global Compact Sustainability Knowledge Hub was launched last week in Colombo to build a case for “Driving Economic Growth Sustainably”.
Inaugurating the event, Ravi Fernando, UN Global Global Compact (UNGC) Focal Point and Global Compact Ceylon Network said that 60% of the world’s leading economic entities are businesses and not nations. He said that the UNGC is the largest Corporate Responsibility Network with 6,600 top companies to learn and practice Triple Bottom Line strategy implementation to create a sustainable world.

He said the role of the UNGC Local Network is to instill the Global Compact within Sri Lanka and to facilitate the progress of companies engaged in the Global Compact with respect to implementation of the 10 principles, create opportunities for multi-stakeholder engagement, collective action and deepen the learning experience of all participants and to promote their own activities and promote action in support of broader UN goals.

He said that sustainable business to create sustainable value for the stakeholders is not an option but a mandatory requirement in the emerging global agenda. Tom Hockley, Head, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office and Senior Coordination Office , said that globalization, sustainability and corporate responsibility are linked together. Speaking of globalization, he said that the cost of a three minute telephone call from New York to London in 1960 was US $ 60.42 and in 1980 it was US $ 6.32, in 2000 it was US $ 0.40 and the estimated cost in 2088 would bring down to mere US $ 0.10.

He said that sustainability is important as no access to drinking water to 1.1 billion people, no electricity to 1.6 billion people while 85% of the water is consumed by only 12% of the global population. He said that 24% of children under 5 years in developing countries are malnourished.

He said sustainability originally was an ecological concept of conservation and biodiversity. He said that regenerative systems have to be sustainably used and to find new economic/social dimensions – sustainable use of economic resources and upholding standards.

He said that corporate responsibility is not about how money is spent but is about how money is made and said that action should be taken to find a long-term strategy to manage risks and discover opportunities, to align businesses strategy and operations with universal values; to find potentially fundamental transformation of corporate strategies, operations, corporate culture and relationships; to find proactive strategic planning, not defensive communication and to find far more core business than philanthropy.

Mr Hockley said that now so many are interested in the UNGC and said that more than 6,200 businesses in over 130 countries; 2,500 participants from academia, civil society etc; representation of North and South (OECD/non-OECD); 50% of SMEs; 200 of the world’s largest corporations and more than 80 local networks are linked with the programme.

Reza Hossaini, UNICEF representative in Sri Lanka shared insights on ‘UNICEF Impacting Social Sustainability in Sri Lanka’. Donglin Li, Country Director, ILO for Sri Lanka and Maldives spoke on ‘ILO Contributing to Social Sustainability in Sri Lanka. Ravi de Silva, Consultant, Social and Environmental Management, Aitken Spence Hotels and Denver de Zylva, Associate Director, Virtusa Corporation shared their experiences in environmental sustainability in their institutions with the participants.

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