3 July 2003



Annual Report Illustrates How Companies, Labour and Civil Society
Are Working Together to Advance Corporate Citizenship

NEW YORK, 2 July (Office of the Global Compact) -- The United Nations Global Compact today announced that more than 1,000 companies from around the world are participating in the initiative, working with international labour, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to advance nine principles in the areas of human rights, labour and the environment.

The number of participating organizations is contained in the Global Compact’s annual Report on Progress and Activities, which was officially released today at a press conference at United Nations Headquarters.  The report provides a comprehensive overview of the Global Compact’s operations during the July 2002-July 2003 fiscal year.

“The idea of a Global Compact -- first articulated in a speech by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in January 1999 -- is today very much alive”, said Georg Kell, Executive Head of the Global Compact.  “From its inception, the Global Compact has operated on the premise that finding solutions to make markets more sustainable and inclusive can only be achieved if societal actors learn how to work effectively together.”

The Report includes the following highlights for the year:

-- The number of participating companies doubled from approximately 500 to more than 1,000 during the year; over half of the companies are from the developing world.

-- The Global Compact was launched in 14 countries, bringing to 53 the number of countries where the Global Compact has taken root.

-- Dozens of partnership projects in support of the Global Compact have been inspired.

-- Global labour increased its involvement, while civil society also continued to play a crucial role as participants in a range of activities.  By year-end, more than 20 civil society organizations were engaged at the global level, with many more at the local.

-- The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) was welcomed as the Global Compact’s fifth core agency, responsible for small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The other four agencies involved are:  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

-- A revised strategic approach was adopted whereby companies are asked to publish a “Communication on Progress” in their annual reports and/or other prominent reports to increase transparency and public accountability.

-- A number of major policy dialogues were convened -- involving hundreds of participants from business, labour and civil society -- and outputs were realized.  Topics included Business and Sustainable Development; HIV/AIDS; Supply Chain Management; and Partnerships.

-- An initiative to grow sustainable business in the world’s least developed countries was launched and tangible action was taken in Ethiopia, with activities planned for Madagascar, Angola, Bangladesh and Cambodia.

“While these are promising developments, the Global Compact remains an ambitious experiment in the possibilities of multi-stakeholder cooperation”, said Mr. Kell.  “The Global Compact must strive to ensure that its principles are translated into practices and actions that ultimately make a difference in the lives of the poor.”

For further information, please contact:  Gavin Power, Global Compact Office, at telephone: 1-212-963-4681.

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