October 20, 2020
by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist – G&A Institute
Three-quarters of a century of serving humanity — the family of nations celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations on October 24th.
After the global conflict of World War Two, with great losses of life, liberty and property, 51 nations of world gathered in San Francisco to put the Charter into force — to collectively explore a better way forward with collaboration not confrontation. (The Charter was signed as the war was ending in the Pacific and had ended in May in Europe). We can say that on October 24, 1945, the United Nations “officially” came into existence with the ratification of the Charter by nations and the gathering of delegates.
The United Nations members states — the global family of sovereign nations collaborating peacefully for seven-plus decades to address common challenges — got good news in its 75th anniversary year.
More than one thousand business leaders from 100+ nations endorsed a Statement of Renewed Global Cooperation, pledging to further unite in helping to help to make this a better world…for the many, not the few. Some of the world’s best known brand marketers placed their signatories on the document.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres received the CEOs’ messages of support at a Private Sector Forum during the recent General Assembly in New York (September).
The Statement from Business Leaders for Renewed Global Cooperation was created as the nations of the world are coping with the impacts of the Coronavirus, domestic and global economic slowdown, rising political and civic unrest, wars in different regions, critical climate change challenges, the rising demand for equality of opportunity, and more.
The corporate CEOs’ public commitments included demonstration of ethical leadership and good governance (the “G” in ESG!) through values-based strategies, policies, operations and relationships when engaging with all stakeholders.
Now is the opportunity, the statement reads, to realign behind the mission of the UN to steer the world onto a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable path. We are in this together – and we are united in the business of a better world.
“Who” is the “We”? Leaders of prominent brands signing on include Accenture, AstraZeneca, BASF, CEMEX, The Clorox Company, Johnson & Johnson, Moody’s, Nestle, Thomson Reuters, S&P Global, Salesforce, Tesla, and many other consumer and B-to-B marketers. (The complete list of large-cap and medium and small companies accompanies the Statement at the link.)
There are many parts of the global community’s “meeting place” (the UN) that touch on the issues and topics that are relevant to us, the folks focused on sustainability. Think of the work of:
UN Global Compact (UNGC)
This is a non-binding pact (a framework) to encourage enterprises to voluntarily adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and report on same; 12,000+ entities in 160 countries have signed on to date (the Compact was created in July 2000).
UN Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI)
Founded 2006, this is a global network of financial institutions and others in the capital markets pledging to invest sustainably, using 6 principles and reporting annually; today, there are 7,000+ signatories to date in 135 countries; this is in partnership with UNGC and the UNEP Finance Initiative.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The SDGs (17 goals with 169 targets) build on the earlier Millennium Development Goals MDGs- (2000-2015).
The Paris Agreement builds on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) plays important roles in protecting the world’s environment.
In all, there are almost three dozen affiliated organizations working to advance humanity through the United Nations System.
SHARED PERSPECTIVES: FAYE LEONE
With all of this activity, the UN needs support, and shared ideas, to build even stronger foundations. Our colleague, G&A Institute Senior Sustainability Content Writer Faye Leone, has a decade of experience reporting on the UN.
Her perspectives: “It is exactly right for business leaders to express support for global cooperation– not competition- at this time. This is in the spirit of the UN’s 75th anniversary and critical for the next big challenge for multilateralism and solidarity: to fairly provide a safe vaccine for COVID-19.”
She explains that leading up to its 75th anniversary in September 2020, the UN conducted a year-long ‘listening campaign”. The results, after over one million people around the world participated!
They said they do not want “more of the same” from the UN. They overwhelmingly called for a more inclusive, diverse, and transparent UN that does a better job of incorporating businesses, cities, vulnerable peoples, women, and young people. They also said the UN should be more innovative.
The Sustainable Development Goals, says Faye, can help with that. The 17 goals “provide a common language for everyone to combine their strengths. According to the head of B Lab, business’ role is to participate in delivering on the SDGs, use the power of business to solve the world’s most urgent problems, and inspire others to do the same”.
Read more about the UN’s 75th anniversary through Faye’s work with IISD here.
Read more about the UN’s 75th anniversary here.
Mark October 24 on your calendar. That’s the day we commemorate the UN’s official founding after WW II (on 24 October 1945). We invite you to think about how you can support the UN moving toward the century-of-service mark in 25 years (2025) – and what ideas you can share to help this organization of the family of nations to address 21st Century challenges!
- Business Leaders From More Than 100 Countries Pledge Support for Multilateralism as the United Nations Turns 75 (Source: United Nations Global Compact)