Watch Daniela Bernacchi, executive director, UN Global Compact Network Italy, discuss improving human rights and sustainability across the supply chain
The United Nations Global Compact, launched in July 2000, aims to promote sustainable development on a global scale. It is a call to action to companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption.
The UN Global Compact was initially proposed at the World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999 by Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary council, when he said: “I propose that you, the business leaders gathered in Davos, and we, the United Nations, initiate a global compact of shared values and principles, which will give a human face to the global market.”
“The local network of the UN Global Compact Network is a privileged observatory on the world of business,” says Daniela Bernacchi, executive director, UN Global Compact Network Italy. “We engage with more than 500 companies in Italy, but all over the world there are 20,000 companies working with us on sustainability-related issues.”
When it comes to business, it is important for companies to take responsibility for their entire supply chain, and ensure they meet universally required standards, especially in the social dimension of sustainability, and in particular respecting and promoting human rights.
“A responsible supply chain increases the positive impact of a company, also avoiding reputational risks,” says Bernacchi. “It is really important to work with their suppliers to have a more resilient and more competitive supply chain, and at the end of the day, an increased positive impact for communities and society.”
Bernacchi says three priorities have been identified for supply chains: “The first priority is involvement and engagement on decarbonisation, so environment and climate action are the first priority.
“Then we have human rights, to do with the impact on the community, the impact on workers’ safety conditions, how we pay employees in our supply chain, and how to guarantee a decent work – that is a very delicate issue.
“The third is taking into consideration externalities in the production process. It’s important that companies try to reduce waste, recycle materials and work in an efficient way – in line with a circular approach, to have a positive impact (and not a negative one) while producing a product.”
You can watch the video interview with Daniela Bernacchi here:
Human rights are crucial
“Every business should be aware of what it is doing in terms of a positive or negative human rights impact,” says Bernacchi.
“The first two principles of the UN Global Compact are about human rights. The first one is to respect human rights, and the second one is being responsible in an indirect way for human rights abuses in relation to the supply chain.”
Looking forward, she adds: “We think all the trends are moving towards a more careful approach on human rights, and they’re becoming more and more of a priority, linked to a sustainability concept that puts people first.”
For more information about the UN Global Compact Network and the Global Compact Network Italy, visit: www.globalcompactnetwork.org/en/