To address the global challenges highlighted by Rio+20, the Global Compact in partnership with WBCSD and WWF has put forth a worldwide call for commitments to actions and partnerships that advance progress along the six core themes of the Corporate Sustainability Forum.
To ensure the quality and impact of these commitments, each must meet established criteria. Additionally, organizations must commit to transparency and report annually on progress made towards the goals outlined in the commitment.
By making a commitment to action, companies can demonstrate leadership in advancing sustainable development objectives. In turn, the Global Compact Office and WBCSD will seek to recognize and highlight commitments made – in publications, media materials and through other communication channels and vehicles.
Types of Commitments
Commitments can take many forms, building on the unique strengths and characteristics of each actor. For instance, businesses can change and innovate business models, provide critical goods and services, dedicate resources to social investment and philanthropy, and engage in advocacy and public policy dialogue. Some companies may begin and end in different places, but all concrete and substantive commitments can help make progress for sustainable development.
Some commitments to action will have a direct impact within a defined period of time on entire organizations or specific initiatives. Other commitments will involve engaging in activities or partnerships or other activities that have valuable and lasting impact by contributing to an enabling environment. All of these commitments will have targets/goals against which their success can be measured.
All commitments are promises to take action, individually or collectively, including:
- New projects or partnerships;
- Existing activities that are scaled up or accelerated;
- Adding partners to existing projects; or
- Renewal of commitments, if activities to realize these commitments are still ongoing.
While businesses can make significant contributions independently, collaboration can often lead to greater impact. Whether collaborating in a public-private arrangement, within a value chain, across industries, with local governments, civil society organizations or the United Nations, stakeholders can utilize the strengths of partnership to make a significant, valuable and lasting contribution beyond their immediate reach.
Commitments that are closely tied to the core business, development plan or mission of a company are often more durable, sustainable and likely to drive real impact and change. Close consultation with other organizations can be an additional driver of impact. Further, organizations making commitments should consider the potential additional positive impacts beyond the scope of the immediate targets and aim to mitigate any potential negative impacts that may inadvertently arise through implementation of the commitment.
All corporate commitments to action submitted in time for the Corporate Sustainability Forum are expected to meet certain criteria:
- Advance one or more UN goals and issues;
- Include time-bound target(s) that can be measured for success; and
- Include an agreement to publicly and annually disclose progress made in realizing the commitment.
Ensuring Integrity and Impact
During the implementation of their commitment, companies will be required to publicly disclose, on an annual basis, progress made towards realizing the commitment. This is to ensure that commitments have lasting impact and to protect the integrity of the UN and Rio+20.
This disclosure may be part of another form of annual communication to stakeholders and must include updates on progress against the targets laid out in the commitment submission. These accountability and integrity measures will be further developed in the lead-up to Rio+20.
If a business is interested in making a commitment, it is important to develop a strategy, consult internally for buy-in, and define relevant actions and/or partnerships to create a bold commitment that is fully supported by the organization.
These accountability and integrity measures will be further developed in the lead-up to Rio+20. Additional guidance and an offline version of the form can be found on business.un.org by following the link above.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding commitments.