A new architecture announced by UN will help business support sustainable development

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30 Sep 2013

During the triennial UN Global Compact Leaders Summit, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed sustainability reporting and introduced a new architecture that is "designed to drive and scale up corporate actions to directly advance United Nations goals".

In a speech announcing this new architecture, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the more than one thousand business executives in attendance by asking them to do more in regards to sustainable reporting:

Companies that take their responsibilities to people and the planet seriously will increasingly be in the vanguard. That is why the investment community is looking closely at sustainability and factors like environmental stewardship, labour standards, social responsibility and good governance. In short, business can no longer ignore its social and environmental responsibilities. We need it to help build sustainability through the marketplace. Ladies and Gentlemen, your companies have already committed to these principles. Most of you are reporting on your progress. But I want you to go further. First, I want you to see what more you can or should be doing in your own operations and in your relationships with trading partners. Second, I want you to act on your commitment by helping to swell the ranks of the Global Compact so we reach a critical mass. Third, I want you to consider how to use your expertise and resources to help to promote the changes we need for a truly sustainable future. We need you to advance innovations and forge collaborations that can have transformative impacts on some of the toughest issues we face. I am firmly committed to the power of partnerships, working with business and all key stakeholders to make progress on UN objectives.

The UN Secretary General was also joined by Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact (UNGC), Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), to "affirm plans for mutual collaboration between the three organizations to support and empower business to take action on sustainable development".

In the GRI press release following this announcement, the organisation noted how this collaboration will occur in the future:

A key factor will be the need for businesses to demonstrate accountability and transparency by publicly disclosing their sustainability impacts, according to widely accepted guidelines. The GRI Guidelines – the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world - are an effective tool for businesses to integrate sustainability into their strategies and to regularly assess and articulate their impact on sustainable development.

To achieve alignment with key partners, GRI plans to work with UNGC and WBCSD to develop private sector guidance that will help companies enhance their sustainability management and reporting with a view to global sustainable development goals and targets.

Also at this summit, the Africa Sustainability Barometer was released and highlights the need for greater corporate reporting on issues of sustainability in Africa. The Barometer will be issued annually to gauge the role of sustainable business in Africa as a means to achieve development objectives on that continent.

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