Blueprint of the UN Global Compact for business leadership on the SDGs
Successful delivery of the 2030 Agenda requires engagement from all businesses. The Blueprint of of the UN Global Compact provides a framework for those companies aiming towards SDG leadership. The 2030 Agenda needs companies of all sizes and from all regions to contribute. Building on an assessment of the qualities of current and past business action on the SDGs, the Blueprint presents a framework for the next generation of business leadership. The intention is to foster contribution to the SDGs at scale. The Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact can propagate business leadership on the SDGs..
The Evolution of SDG Leadership
Business leadership on the SDGs evolves through repeating three steps: prioritize, act, and learn. Leadership evolves, as a company responds to change by repeating a three-step process depicted in Figure 1: first, it prioritizes actions on the SDGs; second, it acts on these priorities; and third, it learns from its impact on the SDGs to improve its own and help others improve their actions, re-prioritize and thus start the cycle over again. Leadership on the SDGs is defined relative to the performance of others and the changing business environment.
A leading company undertakes a principled prioritization of actions based on their potential contribution to the SDGs. This entails a thorough assessment of the company’s greatest risks of negative impact throughout its end-to-end operations and where it can adopt practices that will maximize positive impact for the SDGs. When frst undertaken, these represent the company’s entry points on the 2030 Agenda. Principled prioritization means that while market opportunities can be an important driver of prioritization, the leading company always upholds its essential obligations to the Ten Principles with due regard to the impacts it might have as a result of the interconnectedness of the SDGs.
When priorities are set, a leading company takes time and context specific action that embodies five, equally important, leadership qualities: Intentional, Ambitious, Consistent, Collaborative, and Accountable. These are summarized in the next section.
A leading company commits to learn about the impacts of its actions on the SDGs, sharing lessons both internally and externally. Leadership evolves by taking action on the SDGs that are closely interconnected to the company’s entry points and then over time, expands beyond these. Ultimately, the interconnectedness of the SDGs means that the leading company must adapt its business in all areas where it influences the 2030 Agenda. This requires the company to learn about its impact through continuous monitoring and assessment. Learning ensures that the leading company is resilient to staff turnover and allows all actors to benefit from its experience. By sharing what it has learned, the company also ensures that other actors benefit from its experience, amplifying its impact.
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