UN Global Compact welcomes greater cooperation with ITC
The emerging post-2015 development agenda, which envisions a greater role for business in general and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, presents an opportunity for closer cooperation between the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Global Compact, said the General Counsel of the Global Compact while visiting ITC in December.
‘There is huge potential for deeper cooperation on engaging business, including in the post-2015 development agenda,’ Ursula Wynhoven, General Counsel of the United Nations Global Compact said in Geneva on 5 December 2013.
A strategic policy initiative for businesses interested in advancing economic development, improving human health and reversing environmental degradation, the Global Compact works with companies and with ‘enlightened business leaders’ to ensure businesses operate in a responsible and sustainable way.
While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), targeted for 2015, were seen as a partnership between developed and developing countries to create an environment conducive to development and poverty eradication, the post-2015 development agenda envisions a greater role for business to contribute to realising development goals. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon unveiled the Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture at the Global Compact’s Leaders Summit in September 2013.
The emerging post-2015 agenda also places considerable emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as key drivers of global efforts to unlock growth, reduce poverty and deliver sustainable livelihoods. This is relevant to ITC, as a development partner for SMEs in developing and transition economies, and to the Global Compact, half of whose membership is SMEs, Wynhoven said. She added that one possible area of cooperation is helping companies source from women-owned enterprises in developing countries, which would entail providing support and capacity-building to women-owned enterprises.
‘We’ve been really pleased with the productive collaboration we have had with ITC to date and look forward to exploring additional synergies in the near future,’ Wynhoven said, adding that one of the Global Compact’s greatest assets is local presence, and in particular, networks in developing countries.
In 2009, the Global Compact invited ITC to participate in its Women Empowerment Principles, which offers guidance, based on seven principles, to companies on how to empower women in the workplace. ITC assisted in drafting Principle 5 that deals with expanding business relationships to women-owned enterprises and women entrepreneurs and implementing supply chain practices that empower women.
In 2011, ITC and the Global Compact jointly organized ‘The Business and Development Cases for Engaging Women in Global Value Chains’ at the Fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries in Istanbul and deepened their cooperation with the Global Compact’s participation in ITC’s inaugural Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF) in Chongqing, China.
The importance of supplier diversity in providing new opportunities for women was underscored at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 by an alliance between the Global Compact, ITC and WE Connect, and the Global Compact has since been promoting inclusive sourcing to its participants.
“As ITC assists SMEs in developing countries achieve export success, it is critical we forge strong partnerships with corporates on the buy-side. The integrity of those companies is part of the selection process of partners, for which we rely on the UN Global Compact as a purveyor of the highest principles to which the private sector is directly accountable, in the UN system,” said Meg Jones, manager of ITC’s Women and Trade Programme.