A UN Breakfast hosted by the Global Compact
Enhancing UN-Business Collaboration
Summary of the Strategies, Activities and Commitments by UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes toward enhancing collaboration with the private sector
Six Heads of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes along with senior-level staff from 17 other UN Organizations gathered for a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit on 6 July, 2007 to discuss strategies, challenges and opportunities for improved collaboration with the private sector. Participants recognized the important role of the private sector in advancing UN goals and acknowledged that although the purposes of the UN and the private sector differ - both share common objectives. There was widespread agreement that the UN System should undertake additional efforts to clarify fundamental questions about the Organization’s objectives regarding UN-business partnerships and how to improve the UN’s capacity to implement more effective partnerships toward the achievement of UN goals. Participants agreed that the outcomes of the meeting should be put forward to the UN System Chief Executives Board of Coordination (CEB).
In preparation for the breakfast meeting, the following 21 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes provided input highlighting their strategies, activities and commitments toward enhancing collaboration with the private sector. This collection of these contributions provides a valuable overview of the current status of private sector engagement across the UN system.
Strategies, Activities and Commitments by UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes
(in CEB list order, non-CEB members at the end)
United Nations Secretariat
1) NGO Section of the United Nations Department of Social & Economic Affairs (UNDESA)
- In an effort to involve various stakeholders in the work of the UN, the NGO Section of UNDESA works toward developing and maintaining partnerships with NGOs and with the private sector and creates UN-wide structures to facilitate such partnerships.
- As one example, UNDESA collaborates with private sector organizations to design and produce teaching and training materials on the eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). Currently, traning materials are being been developed that help to promote the MDGs in sports and physical education activities. These materials will be adapted and implemented in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Similar projects with the private sector focus on health issues and on other priorities expressed by the MDGs.
- The NGO Section of DESA contributes to the creation of interface structures between the UN and private organizations at all levels. An informal regional network (UN-NGO-IRENE) has been established to coordinate collaboration between the UN and NGOs. In partnership with the International Association of the Economic and Social Councils and Similar institutions (AICESIS) spread over 5 continents with activities in 65 countries involving over 3000 NGO’s, the UN-NGO-IRENE network is an interface at the country, regional and global level between the UN Headquarters in New York, UN organizations at the country level and non-UN organizations including academia, NGOs, business organizations and philanthropic foundations.
2) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- OCHA manages an online business guide to help companies identify opportunities to contribute to disaster relief efforts. OCHA is working with the Global Compact and Global Hand to develop an automated process that will facilitate the match-making between corporate offers and needs. OCHA is committed to champion this partnership in years ahead. The interface will solicit donations based on UN needs and redirect offers of in-kind assistance first to UN agencies interested in products or services offered, and secondly to NGOs through Global Hand’s network. OCHA is also ready to help corporations navigate the humanitarian response system.
- OCHA cooperates with the WEF and other business associations to promote principled corporate engagement in humanitarian action and to support standby capacity that can fill capacity gaps and improve the overall quality of humanitarian services.
- OCHA will maintain partnerships with its current corporate partners (DHL, Ericsson and World-Check); produce a catalogue of in-kind requirements and reach out to companies for in-kind and financial assistance. An initiative will be developed to attract CERF sponsors.
- OCHA will encourage the UN to revisit current policies with a view to facilitating partnerships and will promote incentives to encourage the corporate sector to cooperate with the UN.
3) United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- The 10th Principle of the Global Compact encourages businesses to work against corruption in all its forms. This can be achieved by applying the principles of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) to the private sector. This Convention, the only global anti-corruption instrument, contains strong measures to build integrity and fight corruption. The UNODC, which brokered the Convention and is its custodian, assists states to implement the UNCAC. The time has come to more closely involve the private sector, both in aligning business practices to the anti-corruption Convention and to helping states improve the management of public finances. This would enhance corporate governance and strengthen the integrity of government.
- The UN, in an initiative spear-headed by UNODC, is building a global public-private partnership to fight human trafficking. The UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT) brings together a broad coalition of governments, businesses, the media and civil society to strengthen efforts to prevent human trafficking, prosecute the traffickers, and protect the victims. The UN is working with the private sector to reduce the vulnerability of potential victims to trafficking and to strengthen corporate responsibility to prevent exploitation.
United Nations Funds and Programmes
4) United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
- UNCTAD serves as focal point within the UN system for issues related to the role of international trade and multinational corporations in development. In this context, UNCTAD welcomes the private sector and other stakeholders as a partner in working to promote investment in developing countries, for example by continuing to develop investment guides and helping developing countries to review their investment policies and tackle impediments to foreign investors.
- Further scope exists for partnerships with the private sector in UNCTAD's activities to build supply capacity in developing countries, set up commodity exchanges, and develop standards for organic agriculture and environmentally sustainable bio-technologies.
- UNCTAD will provide a forum for business leaders to engage with leaders of government to form new partnerships for development. For example, in April 2008, UNCTAD will be holding its twelfth quadrennial meeting, UNCTAD XII, in Accra, Ghana. This meeting will attract heads of state and ministers from around the world. One feature of UNCTAD XII will be the "Investment Summit", which will engage business leaders and government leaders in a discussion on ways to strengthen investment in developing countries.
5) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- UNDP is committed to intensify its engagement of the private sector in support of development. In doing so it will prioritize the following:
- To support the development of more “inclusive markets” that to a greater extent engage the poor as producers, employees and consumers and contribute to sustainable development. In doing so, it will particularly seek to engage large and small companies together with governments and other actors in:
o Supporting pro-poor sustainable value chains.
o Facilitating private investments that make basic goods and services more available to the “bottom of the pyramid”.
o Policy dialogue that aims at establishing an enabling policy and regulatory environment for “inclusive markets”.
- To advance global understanding of how to support the development of more inclusive markets through its “Growing Inclusive Markets” initiative. This initiative undertakes action oriented research and analysis of sustainable pro-poor business models and public sector innovations that aim to guide and inspire governments, the private sector, the donor community and others to take action.
- To facilitate and engage in strategic partnerships that help companies to further align their CSR strategies and investments with local, national and global development priorities.
- To support the strengthening of UN country team coordination and cooperation in engaging with the private sector at the country level.
6) United Nations Volunteers (UNV) (as part of UNDP)
- It is absolutely clear that meeting the MDGs is a collaborative effort. We must find creative and innovative ways to harness collective energies to meet the MDGs. One such initiative is ‘employee volunteering’. The practice of employee volunteering was defined in the United States in the 1970s. Since then some companies have brought a more sophisticated and cohesive approach to promoting employee volunteer programmes as a component of corporate social responsibility. UNV stands ready to work with companies to support effective employee volunteerism programmes.
- UNV contributes to the mobilization of thousands of volunteers around the world, through our partnerships with governments, UN agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector. We believe that volunteerism is a resource that, when coached, channeled and combined with other resources, can be a powerful tool to help countries achieve their development objectives. UNV’s focus is Volunteerism for Development, or ‘V4D’ which is about promoting the capacity of societies to help themselves and thus obtain long-lasting benefits.
- In supporting employee volunteerism, UNV partners with the private sector to identify appropriate projects, to select and place employee volunteers effectively, and to manage the process so that the benefits are real and sustainable.
7) United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- UNEP will continue to engage the private sector on an industry sector basis, promoting capacity building and technology support with sectors ranging from services and manufacturing to extractive industries and infrastructure, using its network of companies, partner organisations and voluntary initiatives.
- UNEP will scale up its activities to address climate change, including the promotion of new models for financing and investing in renewable energy technologies.
- UNEP will explore with the private sector innovations and trends in applying management standards and approaches such as life cycle management, green global supply chains, sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement. Priority will be given to building the capacity of managers and employees of companies (including SMEs) in developing countries.
- Supporting related public policy activity, UNEP will also play a key role in engaging the private sector within the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production, a process called for by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.
8) United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- During the past two years, UNFPA made serious efforts to engage the private sector by developing internal guidelines and tools and establishing partnerships both at global and local levels, in particular in the framework of the Campaign to End Fistula.
- UNFPA intends to sustain the current efforts, develop new collaborations and strengthen the existing partnerships. Building on the successful experience of the recent campaigns in the UK and Belgium, UNFPA is looking forward to new opportunities offered by the private sector to raise the awareness of the public about fistula in particular and reproductive and maternal health in general. UNFPA also intends to further engage the private sector at the Country Level to implement innovative projects aiming at improving access to reproductive health services.
9) United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
- For more than 50 years, UNICEF has recognized the value of engaging the corporate sector in its mission. It seeks long-term strategic alliances and partnerships with companies and organizations that demonstrate a willingness to exercise corporate social responsibility (CSR) and a commitment to, or affinity with, UNICEF’s core values. UNICEF aims to:
- Act as a resource for corporations wishing to build their CSR approaches to include children's issues;
- Encourage corporations to ensure their operations focus on the well-being of children and families;
- Encourage corporate investment in the well-being of children and families;
- Support partners in achieving CSR objectives in line with their business and communications objectives; and
- Engage corporations at a country and international level in resource mobilization, multi-sector partnerships, advocacy, and public policy work that supports UNICEF’s mission.
10) United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- The 21st Century has brought a new paradigm of displacement with unprecedented numbers of people on the move. Today, almost 40 million people worldwide have been forced to flee and the UN refugee agency is at the forefront of efforts to respond to refugee needs.
- UNHCR is exploring new ways of engaging with the private sector to benefit from their core competencies to tackle these new challenges. Some partners provide logistical support or communications expertise. Others have helped set-up computer learning centres in camps in Thailand and a new water system in Ethiopia. UNHCR’s corporate partners help reach new audiences through their employees and suppliers.
- A milestone in the relationship between UNHCR and its private sector partners was the creation of the Council of Business Leaders, launched in 2005 at the World Economic Forum. The Council currently comprises the following companies: Manpower, Merck, Microsoft, Nike and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Council members are currently advising the agency on change management, resource mobilization and corporate communications.
- For UNHCR the next step is to expand the Council from 5 to 8 corporate members. UNHCR is keen to enlist companies in communications, energy, financial services and global logistics.
- An innovative initiative of the Council of Business Leaders is ninemillion.org, a multi- year online campaign to raise awareness and funds for the world’s refugee children for better access to education and sports programs.
11) World Food Program (WFP)
- Among the MDGs which the UN has set for the 21st century, halving the proportion of hungry people in the world is top of the list. As the UN’s front-line hunger relief agency, the World Food Programme feeds nearly 90 million people in over 70 countries each year. WFP is strongly committed to achieving the Millennium Goals and to do so, is expanding its base of support to the private sector to save move lives and build sustainable and economically-viable societies.
- Since launching its private donor relations operation in 2003, WFP has established high-value partnerships with numerous multinational corporations, such as The Boston Consulting Group, Citigroup, DSM, TNT, Unilever, and Vodafone. Over the past four years, WFP has increased private support from US$5.3 million to US$ 55 million.
- WFP is committed to increasing the professionalism of its corporate partner operation and has completed an ambitious new strategy that will further develop the agency’s private sector work. The strategy aims to further diversify its portfolio of support, including expanding outreach to additional corporations and foundations, targeting a host of high-net worth individuals and increasing the volume of internet donors.
Other UN Entities
12) Joint United Nations Programme in HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
- UNAIDS is committed to foster the engagement of the private sector in the response to AIDS. UNAIDS aims to:
- Engage the private sector at a country and international level in resource mobilization, advocacy, and policy work that supports UNAIDS' mission.
- Together with business champions, UNAIDS encourages the linkages between the business sector, trade unions, governments, donors and civil society, including organizations of people living with HIV to better support workplace AIDS programmes and AIDS initiatives in communities and to foster corporate social responsibility.
13) United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC)
- UNSSC will concentrate its efforts on building UN capacity to develop innovative and effective multi-stakeholder partnerships with the private sector, civil society, governments and other development actors.
- In collaboration with The Partnering Initiative (International Business Leaders Forum), UNSSC will continue to work on the ‘Partners in Action’ project, which includes the flagship joint course ‘Partnering Skills for Strategic Engagement’ for UN programme staff and their development partners. Partners in Action will focus on enhancing UN partnering strategies and activities at the country and regional levels.
- UNSSC will also ensure that its training and capacity building activities are aligned with the UN reform process and will offer tailored partnering learning support to UN country and regional teams. To this end, UNSSC and The Partnering Initiative will be strengthening their own capacities to meet growing demand through a ‘training of partnering trainers’ event in Turin in September 2007.
Research and Training Institutes
14) United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
- UNITAR has a dual approach to engaging with the private sector. Leveraging its experience as an executing agency, UNITAR works with companies to build capacity for implementation of MDGs. Based on its experience, UNITAR is also considering providing training to private sector entities who seek to align their corporate strategies with UN goals and principles.
- UNITAR conducted market research to review the interest of private entities in receiving training and has engaged in internal consultations to better understand the incentives and interests of the private sector. In addition, guidelines were developed to promote transparency, integrity and mutually beneficial value creation through partnerships.
- Internal coordination is being increased to engage in partnerships with private entities in a more systematic way. Additionally, to improve partnering capacities within the UN system, UNITAR has contributed to the development of a tool to assess sustainability and impact of partnerships between UN agencies and business.
- Since 2001, partnerships were developed or are being initiated in several areas through capacity-building initiatives which took the form of financial contributions and provision of expertise, including for example specialized training on PPPs through the New York office, access to basic services (Veolia), conflict resolution for local economic development (Total and AddexPetroleum), GHS - global labelling of chemicals (ICCA), diplomatic training on information technology (Intel), fighting AIDS in urban areas (BP), and radioactive scrap metal.
15) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
- FAO has long collaborated worldwide with the private sector. Business and industry have a critical role in global food availability, quality and safety, and in changes affecting agriculture and the environment. Constructive engagement with the business community is fundamental to attaining food security and ending hunger. At the same time, the general public and governments have a vital stake in keeping agricultural production viable and ensuring availability of safe, affordable food for all.
- FAO privileges relations with associations, federations or platforms which simultaneously mobilise multiple actors from the private sector. These include professional associations, commodity groups and non-profit associations of international agri-businesses. Collaboration on policy, conventions and guidelines extend inter alia to food standards and safety through Codex alimentarius, the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Adequate Food, monitoring of pesticide use and disposal in consultation with governments and civil society, and joint capacity building of farmer and rural producer enterprises.
- FAO relationships with private sector are governed by 10 principles: 1) conformity with the Organization’s mandate and work programme, 2) identification of mutual interests and objectives, 3) transparency, 4) accountability, 5) no endorsement given of a private sector product or service, 6) sustainability, 7) scientific credibility, 8) negotiated attribution of intellectual property, 9) specific partnership protocols or memorandums of understanding, 10) non-exclusivity of relations.
16) International Labour Organization (ILO)
- According to the ILO Constitution governments, employers and workers are constituents of the ILO. This tripartism has many achievements: international labour standards have given the world a social floor for globalization and, when ratified, are part of the “rules of the game” for the private sector. Social dialogue is a proven method to promote balanced economic and social reforms. Employment creation and social protection are increasingly recognized as the most sustainable ways to reduce poverty. These are the four pillars of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda. Through its Decent Work Country Programmes, the ILO delivers services to its constituents at the national level.
- The ILO engages with the private sector through multiple channels and programmes to promote : enterprise development, entrepreneurship and job creation; decent work in global and local supply chains; training on labour standards and their realization at the national and enterprise levels; Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives and capacity building for the social partners. ILO programmes work with a range of enterprises, from multinational corporations to cooperatives, small and medium sized enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs in the informal economy.
- The ILO Tripartite Declaration on Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) is the only global tripartite instrument on socially responsible business practices. It sets core labour principles and recognises the responsibility of governments in fostering an enabling environment for sustainable enterprise development. The ILO is preparing a programme, to be launched in 2008, to inform and advice companies on the realization of international labour standards and the MNE Declaration.
- The ILO believes that the principal source of growth, wealth creation, employment and decent work, are a vigorous private sector and economically, socially and environmentally sustainable enterprises. This was articulated in the Conclusions agreed at the 2007 International Labour Conference on the promotion of sustainable enterprises. This forward-looking document identifies and elaborates on 17 elements for a conducive environment for enterprise development; outlines six enterprise level principles for responsible and sustainable practices; and provides guidance to governments, the social partners and public policy to promote sustainable enterprises. It is unique as a document on the role of private enterprise in global development backed by a global consensus of governments, unions and employers organizations.
- The ILO is uniquely placed to inject an essential impetus to the drive for an integrated approach to the role of the private sector in sustainable development because it is in workplaces that the social, economic, and environmental dimensions come together inseparably.
17) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- UNESCO has longstanding experience working with the private sector and highly values its significant contribution towards helping UNESCO achieve its core mission and strategic objectives.
- Responsible behaviour, global citizenship, solidarity and peace are among UNESCO’s core values. They also make good long-term business sense by positioning the private sector and, in particular, the business community as key drivers of sustainable development.
- UNESCO is a multi-stakeholder forum, which promotes international cooperation in the fields of education, the sciences, culture and communication. It works with its 192 Member States and related National Commissions, Institutes and over four hundred associated NGOs.
- Building on this collaborative experience, UNESCO has been very active in developing strategic partnerships and cooperative alliances with industry leaders in various sectors. The aim of these partnerships is to leverage specialized knowledge and mobilize in-kind resources and other expertise to achieve common development goals. These partnerships are very diverse, and include:
§ “For Women in Science” with L’Oreal,
§ “Piloting Solutions for Alleviating Brain Drain in Europe and Africa” with Hewlett-Packard,
§ “Bridging the digital divide” with Microsoft,
§ Empowering women and promoting gender equality through sport with the Sony-Ericsson WTA-Tour.
- These relationships have proven to be extremely successful as they enable the private sector to engage in development programmes and allow UNESCO to mobilize considerable resources for building human and institutional capacities throughout the world.
- UNESCO has developed a set of tools both to strengthen its own internal capacities (intranet platform) and to increase visibility of its current work with the private sector (brochure and internet website).
18) United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
UNIDO is the UN specialized agency which promotes sustainable industrial and economic development throughout the developing world. The Organization concentrates on supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their endeavour to establish linkages with national and international buyers and to adhere to international principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR). UNIDO’s programmes in that field focus on three main areas:
- Operational research: In this context, UNIDO undertakes cutting-edge research and case study development, e.g.:
o Jointly with the Harvard Business School, a study on “Building Linkages for Competitive and Responsible Entrepreneurship”;
o Together with UNODC, an assessment on “Corruption Prevention to Foster SME Development”;
o Supported by AccountAbility, a report on “Responsible Trade and Market Access”
- Practical tools and methodologies. The Responsible Entrepreneurs Achievement Programme (REAP) is UNIDO’s specific contribution to help SMEs to implement the UN Global Compact’s 10 principles, focussing on the management of their economic as well as their environmental and social performance.
- Business Partnerships: Partnerships with multinational corporations are an integral part of UNIDO’s business linkage and value-chain programme, e.g.:
o Promoting eco-efficient management and chemical leasing initiatives for SMEs, in cooperation with the BASF Group;
o Enhancing international competitiveness of SMEs in the automotive component industry through supplier development initiatives, in partnership with FIAT and FORD;
o Supporting SMEs towards greater innovation and competitiveness, focussing on information and communication technology (ICT), in cooperation with MICROSOFT.
- UNIDO will further strengthen its unique role as an active supporter of the UN Global Compact by enhancing business practices based on CSR principles through advancing responsible competitiveness in SMEs, thereby creating the base for sustainable industrial development in its client countries.
19) Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN)
- As the food and nutrition policy harmonization forum of the UN System, the SCN's work is based on the principle of consensus-building and inclusiveness among its members.
- The need for greater private sector engagement in efforts to achieve the SCN vision and mandate of a world free from hunger and malnutrition are well recognized, and the SCN acknowledges the private commercial sector, and especially the food and drink industries, as important actors among those engaged in food and nutrition related activities.
- It has taken some time for the SCN to work out how to engage with the private sector, while preserving its credibility and autonomy, but with the development of the SCN private sector engagement policy, the way is now clear to engage in such a dialogue.
- Among the challenges that are faced is the bridging of the communication gap between public and private sectors, for each to understand better their needs, roles and responsibilities. The SCN will begin seeking support for doing this through the creation of a Working Group on Private Sector Engagement.
20) United Nations Global Compact Office (UNGCO)
- UNGCO will continue its work to strengthen the UN system in its efforts to engage business.
- UNGCO now explicitly encourages all UN Agencies,Funds and Programmes to use the Compact and its 10 universal principles as a platform for engagement with the private sector. The UN Global Compact is uniquely positioned to serve as a key entry point for business to engage in the work of the Organization. Its light governance structure, combined with operational flexibility and the focus on pragmatic solution-finding has helped the Compact to become the largest worldwide initiative of its kind. Its universal values are firmly embedded in the Organization’s mission and objectives, providing both a strong moral compass and a practical framework for action.
- UNGCO will further promote and coordinate best-practice-sharing amongst UN organizations, for example by convening the annual UN System Private Sector Focal Points Meetings and publishing the e-newsletter "The UN-Business Focal Point“.
- UNGCO will advance revision and improved application by all UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the UN and/or their adapted Guidelines for Cooperation with Business.
- UNGCO will continue to contribute to the development of UN policies and practices in the area of business partnerships, for example by developing the Secretary-General's Report to the General Assembly under the item "Towards Global Partnerships", to be presented later in the year.
21) United Nations Office for Partnerships
- In March 1998, the UN Secretary-General created the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP) as the central interface with the United Nations Foundation (UNF), established to administer businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift in support of UN causes.
- Consistent with the priorities and programmes established by Member States, UNFIP and UNF work together to advance the UN's work on key global challenges, including energy and the environment; children's health; women and population; peace, security and human rights. Together, UNFIP and UNF work to mobilize resources, advance innovative new approaches to global problem solving, and engage civil society in the UN's work.
- To date, UNF and UNFIP have supported more than 400 projects, implemented by 39 UN entities in 123 countries resulting in investments of over US$1.2 billion, including over $550 million from other partners (such as the American Red Cross, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Vodafone). Through these efforts, we have gained expert capabilities related to partnership development with private sector entities, as well as effective programme execution, monitoring and reporting. As a team, UNF and UNFIP serve as a portal for execution of compelling campaigns aimed at addressing key global challenges. Examples include our engagement in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative; cooperation with the Nike Foundation on addressing the needs and challenges facing adolescent girls; and a joint initiative with the Vodafone Group Foundation to harness technology in service of humanitarian relief and health surveillance.
- The success of the UNF/UNFIP partnership has been a catalyst for the recent creation of the UN Office for Partnerships. The Office encompasses UNFIP and the UN Democracy Fund and provides advice and support to the UN system, as well as companies, foundations and other civil society organizations, on building partnerships to achieve global international goals, including those laid out in the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. This partnership building work includes advice to companies on conversion of Global Compact principles into concrete projects.
22) World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA)
- WFUNA is a network of national UN Associations in over 100 countries which brings together people from all walks of life to support the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. Member UN Associations, some of which have set up Business Councils, welcome opportunities to work in partnership with companies in the Global Compact to advance the MDGs, human rights, environmental protection and nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.