Pathway 3: New thinking for a new reality

In 2030 we are adjusting towards the transition towards a sustainable and inclusive economy. A new worldview has emerged where people have a different understanding of corporate success and outcomes. The narrow view of ‘economic efficiency’ has been replaced by a broader measure of how organisations contribute towards economic prosperity, ecosystem resilience, social cohesion and a good quality of life for all.

To have a chance of achieving this vision we need to accept new ways of thinking.
Even though change is often resisted, experience shows that even the most
embedded cultural norms can be reversed. Real change has happened in the
past, it can happen again.

The Global Compact is uniquely positioned to facilitate a renewal in thinking
and priorities in the global business community. Our proposals below involve
creating a sea change for sustainability, bringing networks of people together
and redefining prosperity.

The 4 enablers in this pathway:

  1. A compelling story: Creating a new narrative of opportunity
  2. Redefining value: A new perspective of worth and prosperity
  3. Visionary leaders: Redefining the notion of leadership
  4. Spreading the messages: Getting the word out


The world needs a new language of sustainability that is both transformative
and realistic, and that communicates, simplifies and inspires. A story about the
challenges we face and the consequences of inaction, but most importantly a
vision of the desired future that we would like to see – one that is safer, fairer
and more vibrant. Rational facts appear to have insufficient capacity to compel
change. To set in motion new ways of thinking and new courses of action, we
need a compelling narrative focusing on the upside of living within the limits
of the planet - emphasising sustainability-centred creativity, ingenuity and


  1. Create the positive vision for the world, uniting all stakeholders in society,
    mobilised around the new Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Develop the 21st Century Capitalism Story about the new sustainable economy, revamping the purpose from generating GDP to increasing the well-being of all citizens.
  3. Balance the language of risk with the language of opportunity. A new set of
    messages should focus on sustainability not as about risks or constraints, but
    as about innovation, creativity and smarter ways of living.
  4. Move the proof of concept by sharing convincing success stories about
    actions, breakthrough innovations and solutions to motivate and encourage
  5. Popularise sustainability information by developing short and concise
    narratives tailoring messages to specific audiences.


  1. Make the vision a laboratory for action: Convene stakeholder dialogues to
    build a shared understanding of what an ‘inclusive and sustainable global
    economy’ looks like – the destination – and use it as a reverse ‘engineering’
    frame with the technologies, investments, policies, behaviours needed to get
  2. Showcase inspiring practices and solutions: Continue sharing good practices to inspire companies to take the first step and to encourage ‘the possible’. From the pool of participants, focus on identifying and highlighting vibrant new business models and solutions of the new economy.
  3. Create the Boardroom story: To capture the attention of boardrooms around
    the world, focus on telling stories not only of risks but of opportunities, about
    innovation, future winners and losers.
  4. Celebrate stories of success: Be more vocal about signatory and partnership
    successes and the value brought to society through the Local Networks.
  5. Simplify the message: Develop a set of inspiring core messages about the
    Global Compact that unites issues and activities, to communicate more effectively its value.


Measuring affects what we do, and if measurements are flawed, so are decisions.
The current practice of measuring GDP means that we do not capture
vital aspects of national wealth and well-being (e.g. quality of natural resources
and health). We need a new holistic measure of wealth and worth, reflecting a
broader picture of progress and prosperity, beyond GDP. This implies redefining
the purpose of the corporation to deliver value across a broader range
of capitals, not just financial profit for the shareholders. The purpose of the
economy and business will be to add value also to society and the planet. At the
individual level, a new understanding of success and worth should be promoted,
not based on the accumulation of material wealth but enhancing other
relational, collective qualities, based on the fundamental dignity of each human


  1. Develop a new notion of growth, redefine prosperity and the role of the
    corporation and translate this into concrete tools to measure of all types of
  2. Rethink current financial and economic models and consider concepts such
    as the ‘regenerative economy’ recognising the need to regenerate the fundamental capitals.
  3. Advance a new understanding of human value and worth, away from viewing
    human success in terms of accumulation of material goods. Promote a wider
    view of ‘quality of life’.
  4. Governments should integrate ‘well-being’ indexes and hold all agencies
    accountable for measuring progress against them.


  1. A new notion of prosperity: Support initiatives to develop new ways of measuring growth and prosperity. Take initiative to facilitate multi-stakeholder
    dialogue to advance the issue through platforms like LEAD.
  2. Total impact: Call on participants to lead by example by measuring total
    impact and implementing integrated bottom line accounting.
  3. Advancing human values: Encourage companies to develop organisational
    strategies that safeguard the human and labour rights principles, emphasising
    the dignity and worth of each employee.
  4. Protecting the well-being employees: Encourage participants towards worklife
    balance, flexible working hours and other efforts to improve the lives of


A fundamental shift in the quality of leadership is needed, across all domains,
if we are to bring about positive change. Leaders must become ambassadors
of change, and reconnect with a greater purpose that serves the greater good.
Short-termism fostered by political election cycles, quarterly performance
reporting and immediate rewards represents significant barriers for leadership
and decisions for the long-term.

To restore legitimacy and trust, business leadership must be invigorated and
reconnected with societal progress. The attention of the boardroom to foster
big and bold leadership is needed to ensure we actively manage risks, identify
opportunities and catalyse innovation. Leaders across all domains must rise to
the challenge and take responsibility for steering the world towards a resilient,
stable and equitable future within the environmental limits of the planet.


  1. Network with other leaders to develop collective visions for – and pathways
    towards – sustainability within their spheres of influence (country, sector).
  2. Within own organisations, leaders from all sectors must develop long-term
    visions and ambitious (zero footprint) aspirations and targets aligned with long-term sustainability objectives, including mapping how the company can
    contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. CEOs and leadership should better advocate for sustainable business practices
    and take long-term perspectives in public commentary, and with peers and
    stakeholders including investors.
  4. Publicly recognise and convey that the kind of growth created in the future
    must be different from the kind of growth created in the past.
  5. Show courage and dare to voice concerns that may be unpopular and uncomfortable to hear. By clearly articulating positions such as ‘business as usual cannot continue’, business leaders can help to challenge outdated conventional wisdom and create the conditions for change.
  6. Dare to be political: Support and advocate for good regulation to set the
    framework for sustainability innovation. Publicly welcome clear policy
    frameworks with appropriate targets and price signals.


  1. Reward true leadership: Create a platform or mechanism for recognising and
    rewarding the real visionary business leaders not only by participating in the
    Global Compact but by significantly contributing to raising the bar.
  2. Define the 21st century CEO: LEAD should engage its participating companies to discuss and describe the role of the business leaders. What does the 21st century business leader look like? What are expectations of him/her?
  3. Use convening role to create small networks of leaders: Create sector- and
    issue-specific networks of C-Suite leaders to develop more systemic and
    standardised solutions.


The Global Compact has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the world by
gradually embedding the universal values in the global market place. However,
despite an ever increasing proportion of the world’s corporations supporting
Global Compact principles, the vast majority of global business and the public
in general are unfamiliar with the initiative. Even the employees of participating
companies have a low level of awareness with regards to how their own organisations are adopting and acting on the principles. Also the public at large know relatively little about the Global Compact despite the broad support it has with 8041 participating companies. There is an urgent need to revamp communication and marketing – exploring new strategies and tools to get the message out.


  1. Global Compact participants and partners should initiate a joint marketing
    campaign to inform peers, partners and suppliers about the Global Compact
    (such as through the company or organisations social media accounts).
  2. Government leaders should underscore the importance of responsible business
    in all public remarks to the business community, and refer to the Global
    Compact as the world’s most acknowledged framework for sustainability.
    3. Mainstream media should take a more active role and responsibility to ensure that positive stories about new sustainable business models, future-oriented solutions, and radical breakthrough innovations are communicated broadly.
  3. Leverage artists and storytellers that can help raise awareness among the
    younger generation.


  1. Targeted outreach: Conduct more targeted outreach towards different audiences (sectors, leaders, youth, authorities). Identify key agents of change in the network, and collaborate with them to mobilise broader networks.
  2. Local campaigns: Initiate regular outreach campaigns together with the Local
    Networks, and support them more actively in their communication efforts.
    Develop a more standardised approach to communication across the Global
    Compact network.
  3. Convene a multi-stakeholder meeting to develop the 21st century messages
    for the future of the Global Compact, focusing on simple messages that speak
    the language of business, and that can be easily tailored to specific markets
    and different audiences.
  4. Involve religion: Invite religious leaders to become more engaged in sharing
    the message about sustainable principled business.
  5. Speak to Generation Next: Explore use of new media to communicate brief,
    inspirational stories from the network. Promote the use of open source advisory tools, and information sharing through collaboration and unconventional learning arenas on the web, through art and in public spaces to engage a wider audience.
Whereas industrialisation was the great project of modernity, sustainability has become the greatest project of our time. The question is: Will mankind step up, take responsibility and meet this challenge
in time to avert major crisis?’


In the face of the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced – the gradual destruction of the planet upon which we depend for our existence – our response
must not be inaction. It must not be resistance to change. Our response must
be to trust science, embrace change and show leadership to turn challenges into

Because in change lies opportunity. The global business community must seize this juncture in history and become part of the solution by reconnecting with a broader social purpose, and by recognising that the well-being of society and the planet is core to business success.

"The narrow view of ‘economic efficiency’ has been replaced by a broader measure of how organisations contribute towards economic prosperity, ecosystem resilience, social cohesion and a good quality of life for all."