Delivering value on the ground

“I think the most important thing for the Global Compact going forward is to intensify resources for country level networks, country ownership agenda and country level implementation. It’s going to be very, very important going forward.”

Fifteen years on from the launch of the Global Compact, no picture of the initiative’s impacts and achievements would be complete without looking at the contribution the Local Networks have made.

While the Global Compact guides the overall direction of the initiative, the role Local Networks play in advancing the Global Compact principles is critical. Jan Eliasson, the UN Deputy Secretary-General, goes so far as to say that the
“Local Networks are the soul and foundation of the Global Compact.”

It is only at the local level that overarching principles can be turned into concrete action, making progress in line with national priorities. That’s how we know that a Local Network is a success: the community sees the ten Global Compact principles
as relevant and valuable, and there’s meaningful change at a regional level.

These tangible ‘on the ground’ results are not just important in their own right. They are also the yardstick to justify the ongoing existence of the Global Compact as a whole, as well as contributing to the success of the Sustainable Development

But as we have seen, there is a large variation in the maturity and effectiveness of Local Networks. Some groups are vibrant and dynamic; others are still finding their feet. We have discovered the most successful networks include:

  • A clearly articulated and communicated value proposition
  • Stable resources and funding
  • A strong and visible brand highlighting the link with the UN
  • Systematic mechanisms for supporting participants with the
    COP process
  • Acting as a convening platform for other local corporate
    sustainability initiatives, and engaging in strategic and tactical
    relationships with these initiatives.

The well-being of the Local Networks is paramount to the ongoing success of the Global Compact. Going forward, these groups will need to be nurtured, trained, and equipped with the tools they need to truly take root within their communities. In this way, the ten Global Compact principles across human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption can also take root, building a sustainable and inclusive global economy from the ground up.