Information published on 16 September 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 415.

UN Global Compact convenes first meeting of industry and trade associations on corporate sustainability

  • Sustainable development

On 9 September 2014 the UN Global Compact, in collaboration with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) (http://www.iccwbo.org/), convened its first gathering of leaders from global industry and trade associations to discuss corporate sustainability and sectoral engagement.

Over 30 global industry leaders, representing a wide range of sectors – including basic and extractive resources, chemicals, food and beverage, financial services, industrial goods and services, health care, personal goods and retail, and transportation – attended the meeting to share best practices, discuss ways in which they can help their association members advance corporate sustainability, and explore opportunities for cross-sectoral engagement and collaboration.

Participants highlighted the important role that industry associations can play in advancing corporate sustainability, particularly their ability to communicate corporate sustainability priorities, trends and data to their large network of members, and by informing other key stakeholders on sector-specific initiatives and innovations. Participants also showcased illustrative examples of collaboration and partnerships at the country and regional-levels among industry associations and sector initiatives on a range of sustainability priorities.

“This meeting shed light on a range of good efforts undertaken by global industry associations and sectoral initiatives. Today’s meeting stressed the importance of these groups as key drivers of advancing the corporate sustainability movement”, said Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact.

Participants also discussed ways in which the private sector can contribute to future development priorities, such as those addressed by the Post-2015 Development Agenda (https://www.unglobalcompact.org/Issues/partnerships/post_2015_development_agenda.html). Participants expressed enthusiasm for this first meeting of global industry associations and welcomed similar opportunities in the future.

UIC’s Expert Group on Sustainable Mobility was represented by Harold Resida (NS).
Harold briefed the participants on some of the things UIC has accomplished over the past years: the UIC Declaration on Sustainable Mobility & Transport, the Reporting Guidelines and further actions to promote corporate sustainability of the members and the visibility of railways at the global level.

What can we learn from this meeting?

  • one thing that was unanimously voiced by participants: the days of license-to-operate by simply complying to regulations are over. Nowadays, license-to-operate exists in the framework of corporate sustainability!
  • against the background of our fast changing world, there is a constant need for all businesses and their associations to update the themes and focus areas they are involved with. UIC should frequently review its agenda: are we still dealing with the issues on sustainability that make sense for our business?
  • one opinion that was generally supported, is that both companies and associations should seek more ways to co-operate with different partners in order to play a more decisive and more visible role in sustainable development.