Business Energy
Why the United Nations Global Compact is important for Business Leaders?
November 14, 2015
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With the upcoming launch of the United Nations Global Compact in Tanzania, it is important that business leaders take a hard look at their businesses and how they affect humanity and environment; this applies at both the local and global context. Multinationals have a big role to play, this is much so, given the recent discovery of oil and gas in Tanzania. The impact on our biodiversity and environment will not go unnoticed.

Two studies released today find business will play a major role in climate changeaction following the COP21 climate change summit in Paris next month.

The GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey, a long-running expert surveys on sustainability-related topics, finds 86 percent predict that the private sector will play an “important” or “very important” role post-Paris. Some 90 percent of respondents believe the same to be true for national governments.

But while a significant majority (92 percent) of respondents are confident that the UN conference on climate change will result in a global agreement, only 32 percent believe that it will have binding powers.

Confidence in the ability of governments to agree on a framework in Paris that would reduce emissions in line with the 2 degrees C target is virtually non-existent (4 percent) and the removal of subsidies for fossil fuels (82 percent) was rated the most effective economic instrument to contain global warming by experts.

Opinions of expert stakeholders from 69 countries show that there has been a big turnover in perceived corporate leaders on climate change since Copenhagen in 2009, citing a whole new set of champions including Unilever, Tesla, IKEA, Google, General Electric and Walmart. Only three companies — General Electric, Walmart and Toyota — that were included in the 2009 ranking made the list this year.

A second global study published today by the United Nations Global Compact and Accenture finds a majority of business leaders say that a long-term agreement at the UN climate summit in Paris is critical to supporting private sector investment in low carbon solutions.

The report also reveals that executives see action on climate change as an opportunity for growth and innovation that will be essential to securing competitive advantage in their industries.

The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study report, Special Edition: A Call to Climate Action, is based on a survey of 750 business leaders from UN Global Compact participant companies. The research, undertaken by Accenture Strategy, finds that 70 percent of executives representing companies with annual revenues of more than $1 billion see climate change presenting opportunities for growth and innovation for their company within the next five years. Sixty-seven percent already see a clear business case for action on climate change.

In the broader sample of business leaders across 121 countries, more than half (54 percent) of all respondents say that climate change will create opportunities for their company within the next five years. Forty eight percent believe that there is already a clear business case for action.

Seventy four percent of executives at companies with more than $1 billion in annual revenues, and 61 percent of all respondents, see a long-term agreement in Paris as critical to unlocking private-sector investment in climate solutions.

The concern about policy action comes as two thirds (66 percent) of business leaders say that the private sector is not doing enough to tackle climate change. Ninety-one percent believe that action is an urgent priority for business, but just one-third (34 percent) see progress on track to restrict global warming to less than the 2 degrees C limit.

The study identified five key policy measures that can unlock further private sector investment in climate solutions:

  • Legislative and fiscal mechanisms to increase investment in climate solutions;
  • Financial instruments to stimulate R&D and innovation in low-carbon solutions;
  • Performance standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance climate resilience;
  • Global, robust and predictable carbon pricing mechanisms;
  • The removal or phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

The study also identifies five key leadership behaviors that will be essential for companies to adopt in their efforts to play a leading role in addressing the climate challenge:

  1. Providing proactive, constructive input for governments to create effective climate policies;
  2. Collaborating with industry peers to foster leadership, innovation and scaling of climate solutions;
  3. Investing in low-carbon technologies and solutions to drive energy efficiency, grow the supply of renewable energy, leverage low-carbon innovations and build climate resilience;
  4. Taking concrete measures to increase climate resilience in operations and communities;
  5. Setting emissions reductions targets in line with science and the 2 degrees C limit.

Last year’s UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study found the majority (63 percent) of CEOs struggle to quantify the business value of sustainability. The poll of 1,000 CEOs found the failure to make a link between sustainability and business value is the fastest rising barrier over the past decade.

I’m excited to see how this will pay out in the Tanzanian local landscape but also at the global stage…

What do you think?

About author

Patrick Ngowi

A Tanzanian Entrepreneur. Founder of Helvetic Group and Co-founder of the Light for Life Foundation.

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