What Role Has the United Nations Played in Corporate Sustainability?
Over the years, the United Nations has played a critical role in shaping corporate sustainability into what it is today. These efforts have recently scaled-up in the realisation of the role business has to play in securing our economic, social and environmental sustainability for years into the future.
The late Kofi Annan was a trailblazer in this area, inciting the most remarkable change when it comes to the United Nations’ interactions with the private sector on global sustainability. Under his leadership, agencies were set up to encourage business participation in sustainability, resolutions were passed and programs were implemented.
However, the most significant shift when it comes to corporate sustainability can be seen in business’ participation in the drafting of the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development and their associated 169 targets.
The key goal which has driven business participation in the 2030 Agenda is Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals. The Millennium Development Goals, the predecessors to the Global Goals, established in 2000, included a goal on partnerships for development; however, the focus was not as strong on business partnerships.
Since the inception of Global Goals, a number of additional programs have been set up to streamline and encourage business participation in the achievement of the these goals. At the United Nations General Assembly for the past few years, corporate involvement in the creation of a sustainable future has been high on the agenda with discussion centred around how businesses can assist in the achievement of the tasks we have set ourselves. With the Global Goals needing upwards of AU$6 trillion of financing per year to see their achievement, it is crucial that we have business on board as this amount of money cannot come from the overseas development assistance (ODA) budgets of United Nations member states alone.
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