'Time to accelerate and scale up on sustainability' says UN

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
2 July 2015

Almost two-thirds of companies signed up to UN sustainability goals say their labour policies and practices also apply to suppliers, up from 37 per cent in 2008, according to a report.

In an independent report on progress of the UN Global Compact since it was launched 15 years ago, prepared by DNV GL on behalf of the UN, it said the number of firms “reporting they have policies and practices applying to suppliers has risen considerably”.

“A clear trend in the past 15 years is the increasing number of supplier codes of conduct covering all issue areas, and there is more monitoring of supplier performance and engagement with suppliers,” said the report.

However, a survey of firms signed up to the Global Compact also found just 31 per cent of respondents considered labour issues in their supply and subcontracting agreements, and only 17 per cent of Global Compact companies require suppliers to also be members.

In 2000 there were 44 firms signed up to the programme, which includes committing to 10 principles covering issues such as human rights and the environment, but in 2015 this had grown to 8,041 across 156 countries. A quarter of Fortune Global 500 firms and 40 per cent of FTSE 500 firms are members.

“Tremendous progress has been made over the last 15 years,” said the report. “But the world needs to move much further, much faster to have any hope of achieving the Global Compact’s vision. Sustainable business practices must evolve rapidly. Continuing the change that has been started is not enough. It is time to accelerate and scale up.”

Georg Kell, UN Global Compact executive director, said: "This report confirms that the tide is turning in corporate practices. Over the past 15 years, companies around the world have been awakening to their role in society and starting to make important strides to operate more responsibly and innovate for a greener, more sustainable future.

“But there is still a long way to go, and the UN Global Compact remains strongly committed to mobilising business everywhere to be a force for good."

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