New Program to Boost Sustainable Business in Developing Countries Launched at Rio+20

The UN Global Compact (UNGC), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) are together launching a new 3.2 million Euro program that aims to build the capacity of local businesses in developing countries in corporate sustainability management and reporting. This is being debuted ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20.

Rio +20 is going to be a turning point for sustainable development as well as for businesses to showcase how they are dealing with challenges. Companies operating in developing countries, especially, face this challenge and this is something that this collaboration recognizes. World leaders will discuss the importance of sustainability reporting at Rio +20 and will aim to drive sustainable business conduct. Details are highlighted in the draft of the Rio+20 Outcome Document.

The joint program will be launched in Rio this week and its primary aim is to enable companies in developing countries to improve their management and reporting of key performance indicators such as greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, human rights, women empowerment, and anti-corruption.

The GRI produces a sustainability reporting framework that is used widely across the world, even in developing countries. The UNGC aligns business operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. With this collaboration, Global Compact and GRI are working together to provide companies with a comprehensive framework based on both standards.

Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact, said: “Corporate sustainability management and reporting can help companies identify areas for improvement and better manage their risks and opportunities. Ultimately the program aims to strengthen businesses’ sustainability management practices in these markets to improve the competitiveness of local businesses by facilitating access to international markets and capital.”

Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), added: “Transparency is a key part of sustainable business operation, and can help companies in developing countries get access to new markets, manage their risks and opportunities, and improve performance.”

Although the number of companies that are reporting in developing countries is growing, the growth is uneven and not fast enough. This new collaboration hopes to bridge this gap and will help companies act with more transparency. The Global Compact, GRI and SECO will launch the new project on June 16 at the Rio+20 Conference, highlighting the importance of sustainability management and reporting for improving companies’ competitiveness in developing countries.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also http://www.thegreenden.net