For the past fifteen years, dramatic changes have taken place bringing in new challenges which the international community and the United Nations have to face.
In this era of globalization, the world is becoming more and more interdependent, linked by trade, new telecommunication and transport technologies, and characterized by new issues, such as poverty and climate change, defined by Kofi Annan, former UN secretary General, as ‘problems without passports’.
However, a more interconnected world does not necessarily mean a more unified one. Our world has, on the contrary, been exposed to more and more decentralized processes. Nations have diverging priorities and interests, there are also a multitude of new actors in international affairs.
Today, the ‘Global engagement’ is not a topic exclusive to governments and officials as it used to be, but is now a matter shared between nongovernmental organizations and the private sector.
In order to respond to these new global challenges, the UN has adapted its own operations to be able to gather new resources and to create international cooperation agreements that positively impact all geographic areas and sectors.
The Global Compact, which was launched in 2000, specifically responds to these new global challenges by encouraging businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies. This strategic policy initiative encourages businesses to align their operations and strategy to ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. For example, Accor company, as a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2003, has been integrating sustainability issues at the heart of its strategy. To do so, the group put in place a structured program which takes action toward corporate social responsibility, society and the environment, for example with the implementation in 2007 of the ‘Green Globe’ standard, a sustainability certification, and the implementation of the ‘Earth guest’ program in 2009.
By committing to these principles, businesses, as primary actors of the globalization, help ensure that their activities benefit society and the economy as a whole.
Following this initiative, the United Nations Global Compact Leaders Summit, organized every three years, brings together business executives with civil society, governments and United Nations leaders to tackle global issues such as education, children's rights, women's empowerment, employment, climate change, and access to water and food -to name a few.
The UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2013: Architects of a Better World, that took place on the 19th- 20th of September in New-York, specifically set the stage to engage businesses and key stakeholders to advance on the post-2015 development agenda.
Today, more than ever, collaborative solutions to the most pressing challenges facing both business and society are a necessity. Only by putting together the expertise and resources of the private sector, governments, civil society and key stakeholders, the development of sustainable solutions to the world’s problems can be made possible.
Nicolas Bouzanne is an intern at UNRIC (United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe)