A voluntary international initiative – the UN Global Compact – brings companies together with UN agencies, international labour organisations and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles. The UN Global Compact works to advance ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. Through collective action, the UN Global Compact seeks to promote responsible corporate citizenship so that business can be part of the solution to the challenges of globalisation.
Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
Although the Global Compact appears to be a standalone initiative with its own website etc it actually links to other UN ESG related initiatives (the SDGs, SBTI etc). In fact there seems to be quite an overlap to the extent that the Global Compact promotes the SDGs and is in partnership with the SBTI. To this extent it is not clear why the Global Compact has its own separate set of 10 goals – there is overlap with the SDGs but they’re not synonymous. The Global Compact is, however, focused on businesses; hence the range of targets is more restricted than those that one might expect governments to attend to.