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Secretary-General urges businesses, consumers to better know their supply chains

Global Compact Board meets in New York.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Global Compact Board meets in New York.

Secretary-General urges businesses, consumers to better know their supply chains

In the wake of the deadly tragedy at a garment factory in Bangladesh, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today challenged the United Nations Global Compact to strengthen its engagement in promoting safe and sustainable employment and opportunity.

“Businesses around the world are waking up to the urgency of addressing social, economic and environmental challenges,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the UN Global Compact Board luncheon, held in New York.

“Many have embraced the principles advocated by the Global Compact, and the number is growing. The challenge now is to nurture the movement for corporate sustainability.” The Compact is the world’s largest corporate responsibility initiative, with more than 7,000 companies in some 140 countries.

Mr. Ban, who chairs the Board, noted that the Global Compact Leaders Summit in September will unveil a new global architecture for scaling up corporate sustainability and aligning business with UN priorities, in particular the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the international community hopes to reach by 2015, and the post 2015-development agenda.

“The goal is to provide a framework for business to contribute at unprecedented levels to key global issues such as climate, energy, water, food, women’s empowerment, children’s rights, decent jobs, and education,” Mr. Ban said in the first meeting of the year.

“The Global Compact will be able to accelerate business involvement in multi-stakeholder partnerships at just the time we need them the most,” he added.

Addressing participants comprised of Board Members and Governments earlier in the day, Mr. Ban noted the recent events in Bangladesh, where more than 500 workers were killed and thousands injured when the eight-storey Rana Plaza building collapsed on 24 April on the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka.

“Too many businesses are still willing to sacrifice workers’ rights and safety for the bottom line.

It is time for all companies to police their supply chains, not distance themselves from them,” Mr. Ban urged.

“Consumers, too, need to be educated about the social and environmental impact of the products they buy,” he added.

Each company that signs on with the Compact agrees to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption.