Strategy Released for Responsible Business and Sustainability in Africa

Strategy Released for Responsible Business and Sustainability in Africa

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 - 9:35am

CAMPAIGN: The Global Compact in Africa

CONTENT: Press Release

Addis Ababa, June 11, 2014 /3BL Media/ – Marking the highlight of the UN Global Compact XII Annual Local Network Forum (ALNF) and UN System Private Sector Focal Points (PSFP) Meeting in Addis Ababa, the UN Global Compact today released a long-term strategy for growth and engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Africa Strategy (Partners in Change: UN Global Compact Advancing Corporate Sustainability in Africa) was launched as businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to contribute to the United Nations post-2015 development agenda and scale up sustainable development in the region.

The potential for economic growth and inclusion in Africa is at an all-time high – with private sector investments and operations providing the backbone for long-term growth, prosperity and opportunity. At the same time, the private sector is increasingly playing an important role in the social and economic development of African countries. 

In response to these growing economic trends to better connect with the growing private sector in Africa, the Africa Strategy will serve as the overarching plan of action to rearticulate and emphasize the Global Compact's value proposition in the region.

While many leaders in the African private sector recognize the business case for sustainability, the challenge lies in translating this recognition into long-term commitment and action in Africa. The Global Compact’s strategy for Africa will bring together actors on the ground, in the region and around the globe to work together and become partners in change for a developing and rising Africa.

“Now, more than ever, as many African economies begin to take center stage and the private sector becomes a transformative force in social, political and economic agendas, investment and business activity must be responsible – bringing value not just financially, but also in social, environmental and ethical terms,” said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “It is crucial that corporate ownership, driven by indigenous African firms and strong partnerships on the ground at various levels, commit to push forward this agenda.” 

Launching the Africa Strategy, Elias Masilela, CEO of Public Investment Corporation and Member of the UN Global Compact Board, urged that “African businesses must be agents of change on the continent. The strategy needs to be owned by companies on the continent.”

Already, more than 500 companies and other stakeholders are participating in the UN Global Compact across 35 countries, and 17 African Local Networks are helping to enhance understanding of sustainable business practice in the national and regional context. Yet, this constitutes only a fraction of the 8,000 companies and 4,000 stakeholders that are engaged worldwide in the Global Compact.

Moving forward, the Global Compact will focus on engaging more companies in Africa to embed its universal principles, so that a critical mass of companies joins the global movement to conduct business responsibly. The Global Compact will also work with the private sector to urge Governments to provide the right incentives and enabling environments for business to thrive.

Today’s announcement was delivered during a week-long series of events, Africa: Advancing Partnerships and Responsible Business Leadership, co-hosted by the UN Global Compact, UN Economic Commission for Africa, UN Development Programme, UN OCHA and WIPO. Held in Addis Ababa, the meetings link business, investors, Global Compact Local Networks, UN organizations and other stakeholders to promote responsible business in Africa and explore activities and partnerships that advance sustainable development – with a special focus on the continent.

Other announcements include the following:

The latest Africa Sustainability Barometer, which provides the first benchmark for the state of responsible business on the continent, was unveiled. Developed jointly by the UN Global Compact and the Financial Times - This is Africa, the Barometer aims to motivate companies to improve their sustainability performance and reporting, in an effort to make the business case across the continent and assist investors. The Barometer is based on a comprehensive, region-wide assessment of sustainable business practice – covering international companies with operations in the region, as well as local and regional companies. Annual reports of over 1,000 companies operating in Africa inform the Barometer.

New modalities for partnerships and collaboration toward the post-2015 development agenda were introduced. The UN Global Compact Business Partnership Hub is an interactive, online platform designed to connect businesses with potential partners in support of UN goals and issues. Companies and other organizations can find new partners for their projects, or join existing projects, in the areas of anti-corruption, climate and energy, social enterprise and water. They can also connect with potential partners in the UN system through the UN-Business Partnerships Hub. More than 300 organizations are already connecting online through over 250 projects.

The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability “Regional Insight: Africa” was released. The CEO Study on Sustainability is the largest study of its kind ever conducted, with insights from more than 1,000 CEOs across 103 countries and 27 industries. Intended as a companion piece, the regional report highlights contributions from more than 50 CEOs from Africa and provides an in-depth perspective on the views of business leaders in a region critical to the development of a more sustainable global economy.

In addition, the Global Compact convened its Human Rights and Labour Working Group meeting, with strong representation from sub-Saharan Africa by participants from the UN system, business, academia and civil society. Focusing on human rights challenges and opportunities on the African continent, the group emphasized the importance of decent work, youth empowerment and strong stakeholder engagement for the extractives sector. Recommendations were made on identifying good practices on implementing the Guiding Principles and capacity building at the local level, in collaboration with Global Compact Local Networks.

About the United Nations Global Compact
Launched in 2000, the United Nations Global Compact is both a policy platform and a practical framework for companies that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices. As a multi-stakeholder leadership initiative, it seeks to align business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to catalyze actions in support of broader UN goals. With 8,000 corporate signatories in 145 countries, it is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.



Kristen Coco
+1 (917) 288-0787
UN Global Compact