UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] called on business leaders to work with the US to pursue and promote sustainable development [press release] worldwide in a statement made on Friday at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit [official website] in New York. The Global Corporate Sustainability Report 2013 [PDF] released by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) [official website] surveyed nearly 2,000 companies across 113 countries, and found that although companies are defining goals and setting policies in compliance with the compact, implementation of the policies is still lacking. In his opening remarks, Ban stated [press release]:
The sustainable journey that we all need to take is in everybody's best interest—even if it may sometimes demand short-term sacrifice. Nobody can benefit from catastrophic climate change or rampant unemployment and the social unrest that comes with it. Prosperous, stable societies and a healthy planet are the bedrock of political stability, economic growth and flourishing new markets.Ban concluded his remarks by calling on business leaders to be "architects of a better world" by responding to global challenges and making sustainability a core part of their business strategies.
The UNGC, set up in 2000, is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative, with goals of linking business engagement with global priorities such as combating poverty, mitigating climate change, empowering women and children, implementing ethical labor standards and fighting corruption. The UNGC incorporates the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) [official website] adopted by the UN in 2000 into sustainable business practices by the end of 2015, when the MDGs will expire. In May a group of international non-governmental organizations released a joint statement [JURIST report] urging world leaders to pursue a rights-based development agenda after the MDGs expire. In 2012, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) [official websites] released a report [JURIST report] stating that integrative human rights and environmental protection laws and policies should be implemented to achieve sustainable development.