Architects of a Better World – the United Nations Global Compact meeting in New York – September, 18-20, 2013
In September 2000, world leaders from governments came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The MDGs aim was to half extreme poverty, to stop spread of HIV/AIDS and to provide universal primary education. The target date for the achievement of all these goals was 2015 and all the world’s countries and leading development institutions signed up.
While much seems to have been accomplished thanks to the MDGs, a lot remains to be done to achieve a world that is equal and where people have access to rights that are the basic human rights of human beings. The MDGs have not been achieved and 2015 is nearly upon us.
The United Nations Global Compact is “a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.”  Multinational corporations have become extremely powerful with some of the largest ones earning revenues that are larger than the GDPs of countries. According to Fortune 500  Royal Dutch Shell is the highest earner today closely followed by Walmart and there are many more international companies of a similar size and importance. It is clear that companies have enormous power, incredible agility and they are moving around the world in an unprecedented way and so what?
Well, the Global Compact has, in the 10 plus years of its existence, signed up over 10,000 companies in 130 countries  to the 10 principles I have just referred to.These companies have effectively agreed to behave in a responsible way no matter where they operate- a big promise.
Freda Miriklis (middle), International President (2011-14) BPW International; Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin (right), Stakeholder Relations and Student Counseling at BSL, at the UN Global Compact Meeting in New York, September, 18-20, 2013
The meeting I just attended in New York (September 18- 20th, 2013) – “Architects of a Better World- Building the Post- 2015 Business Engagement Architecture”  was a very interesting one. It brought together over a thousand people from the UN, Business, civil society, and academics- to talk about the future. What will happen and follow on from the MDGs? What part will businesses play in this future? How can business be a force for good? What is the future in Africa and what is the responsibility of companies who go there to do business? What about women in business? Can we continue to ignore the 50% of the human race who are women? Does this really make business sense?
The MDGs will expire in 2015; in the UN 68th General Assembly session (25th September, 2013) government heads of State will discuss a proposal for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and all this is happening as I write.
The Global Compact meeting which just took place last week  took a stride forward and organizations, initiatives and networks working globally were requested to engage business on sustainable development. They were asked to join forces with the UN Global Compact, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the Global Reporting Initiative in particular. The invitation went further when these organizations were invited to promote and support corporate commitments and actions that support UN goals . Quite an invitation…
Governments and Business working together with a common goal that of saving the planet and its people. There is no time to lose.
 Architects of a Better World- Building the Post 2015 Business Engagement Architecture. United Nations Global Compact. Published by the UN Global Compact Office. September 2013
Mary Mayenfisch-Tobin, BCL, LL.M, Solicitor