28 May 2009

Minister Launches Australian Network of the United Nations Global Compact

Senator Nick Sherry, Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, has today launched the Australian Network of the United Nations Global Compact, which commits business participants to a framework for responsible and sustainable business practices.

The UN Global Compact is the world's largest voluntary corporate citizenship initiative. Launched in 2000, the Global Compact revolves around 10 principles for business on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. The Global Compact aims to encourage responsible business practice.

"This is a very significant initiative. At a time when transparency, trust and confidence have been confirmed as key issues for both business and the community, this is an important and practical step to improve corporate governance and community welfare. This is about clearing the path for companies to develop their responsible business practices both locally and internationally.

"The Australian network is already playing an active role in the recently formed Asia-Pacific Regional Network which aims to increase the contribution of business to sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific and Australia has been warmly welcomed by the existing Global Compact Networks."

"I congratulate new and long-standing Australian business participants in the UN Global Compact for their commitment to responsible and sustainable business practices," said Minister Sherry.

Recent Australian signatories to the UN Global Compact include Woolworths and Drake International while long-standing participants include Westpac, BHP Billiton, Foster's and Allen Arthur Robinson.

This initiative builds on the Rudd Government's commitment to responsible business and investment practices including:

  • $2 million in funding over three years to the St James Ethics Centre for it to become the focal point in Australia for the Global Reporting Initiative and the UN Global Compact;
  • $2.5 million to establish a world first Responsible Investment Academy;
  • requesting the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to develop a guideline for super fund trustee responsibilities in relation to incorporating environmental, social and governance issues into investment decision making; and
  • Australian Government membership of the International Advisory Board to the Global Reporting Initiative, the gold standard in corporate responsibility reporting.