DUBAI, 15 January 2022 – The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the important role companies large and small play in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says the UN Global Compact, a co-curator in the upcoming Global Goals Business Forum taking place during Global Goals Week, which kicks off on Saturday.
Alexandra Tarazi, Senior Manager, Global Operations, UN Global Compact, said: “We are very cognisant of the fact that companies are at varying levels of maturity when it comes to incorporating sustainability into their operations. Currently there is no [minimum] threshold – companies at any level are invited to join the Global Compact.”
Billed as the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with its Ten Principles, addressing human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
A special initiative of the UN Secretary General, it seeks to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the SDGs – a global blueprint to eradicate poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change before the end of the decade – through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change.
UN Global Compact is a co-curator in the Global Goals Business Forum, taking place on 18 January as part of Global Goals Week, which runs from 15 to 22 January.
Asked what her message would be for businesses interested in signing up, but who might be apprehensive in committing to further corporate sustainability targets – particularly in light of a challenging two-year period for businesses globally – Tarazi said: “Over the past two years, we have witnessed very high growth in the Global Compact… The pandemic, if anything, has shown companies how [incredibly important] their role is. We did see many companies throughout the pandemic step up and support their communities, support their employees and their various stakeholders. That is really a testament to the need for companies to come and do this [sign up to the UN Global Compact].
“Those companies that had already been integrating the SDGs and sustainability well before the pandemic hit were also quite resilient – in the sense that they were prepared to respond to crises. That is another important benefit of taking a strategic approach to corporate sustainability.
“It does help a company become more resilient, because of this impact assessment need,” she added, noting that sustainability requires a company to ascertain risks, and decide how best to proactively address them.
Florence Bulte, Chief Sustainability Officer at Chalhoub Group, a Global Compact signatory, said: “It’s a journey – we are very conscious that nothing can be perfect. But the important thing is to reflect on what went well or what is good, and what can be improved.
“It’s not about being perfect when we start, but the journey. And trying to learn, [gain] knowledge, and know how to improve. You can be a start-up or a two-person company, and still have an impact.”