Land, Construction and Real Estate Sector Focus of United Nations Global Compact and RICS in New Drive to Advance Responsible Business

Jun 29, 2015 11:20 AM ET

LONDON, June 29, 2015 /3BL Media/ – The United Nations Global Compact and RICS today issued a call to organizations in the land, construction and real estate sector, and those working with them, to take a leading role in global efforts to drive responsible and sustainable business practices.

Advancing Responsible Business Practices in Land, Construction, Real Estate Use and Investment, examines the sector’s impact in relation to the UN Global Compact’s four focus areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption. The guide was launched at the Mansion House in the City of London.

It identifies some of the most critical issues facing the sector, broken down into the three key real estate life cycle phases – development, use, and recovery – and proposes the corresponding actions to embed responsible business practices, illustrated by good practice case studies from around the world. The resource provides a guide to a broad cross-section of organizations with their decision-making throughout the real estate life cycle: from commissioning, planning, design and construction, through operation, refurbishment and ultimately disposal.

The land, real estate and construction sector represents up to 70 per cent of global wealth, contributes around one tenth of total global GDP each year and represents 7 per cent of overall employment. 

The sector also has substantial impacts on land development, resource use and waste generation. There are also issues related to human and labour rights during development and construction. For example, the built environment accounts for around 40 per cent of global energy use and around one third of total greenhouse gas emissions. Although many businesses in the sector have corporate sustainability strategies and policies in place, the challenge for many is to translate those policies into actions that are practical, achievable and repeatable, across organizational and geographic boundaries.

“There is a tremendous opportunity for real estate to become a driving force for a more sustainable financial, economic, social and environmental system, through collaboration and collective action,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

“Responsible action needs to become ‘business as usual’ within global real estate markets, driving prosperity, innovation and investment, and helping to secure vibrant and transparent markets, thriving economies, inclusive communities and a greener, healthier planet,” said Sean Tompkins, Chief Executive Officer of RICS, speaking last week at a meeting of trade and industry associations at the global level held in conjunction with a UN Global Compact summit on sustainable development in New York.

The resource is the result of a two-year collaboration between the UN Global Compact and RICS, a global professional body representing more than 100,000 members in 146 countries. The resource is a product of extensive dialogue and consultation with diverse stakeholders including business, UN, public sector organisations, and civil society. This is one of the UN Global Compact’s first initiatives to promote responsible business that focuses exclusively on one specific economic sector.

Added Sean Tompkins: “The land, real estate and construction sector has an enormous impact on global economies, the environment and people’s lives. With this resource we want to show businesses how to operate responsibly and sustainably, generating substantial social, environmental and reputational value and long term financial success in the process.”

Additional contributions to the resource came from:

The Centre for Real Estate at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and a Steering Group of sector-related representatives from Global Compact participant organisations and wider civil society. In addition, the resource was shaped via in-person workshops and an online consultation with a dedicated group of RICS members and numerous other stakeholders across the globe.

To download Advancing Responsible Business Practices in Land, Construction, Real Estate Use and Investment, visit or


Media Contact

Ursula Hartenberger
Global Head of  Sustainability

UN Global Compact
Timothy Wall
Senior Policy Adviser                                                                                    

About the UN Global Compact:

The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate policies and practices. Launched in 2000, it is largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with over 8,000 companies and 4,000 non-business signatories based in 160 countries.

About RICS:

RICS is a global professional body and promotes and enforces the highest professional qualification and standards in the development and management of land, real estate, construction and infrastructure. Their name promises the consistent delivery of standards – bringing confidence to the markets they serve.