UN Global Compact Launches Sustainable Supplier and SME Programme

Bridgetown, Barbados, May 22, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The United Nations Global Compact announced the launch of its Sustainable Supplier and SME Programme at the Global Supply Chain Forum today.  The new programme provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) an exclusive platform for global exchange, business action and country implementation to accelerate sustainability in global supply chains and future-proof SMEs for the green transition.

Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, speaking at the launch event said “Companies that participate in our Sustainable Supplier and SME Programme will be better equipped to align their business strategies with corporate sustainability standards and emerging regulations – learning how to reduce take climate action, attract financing, build resilience and emerge more inclusive and sustainable.”

Supply chains play a crucial role in global progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with two-thirds of companies’ ESG footprint tied to their suppliers. With SMEs making up 90% of businesses, accounting for 50% of total employment worldwide, and nearly 40% of GDP in emerging economies, SMEs are key drivers of global sustainability progress and inclusive growth. 

However, SMEs face significant challenges in adopting sustainable practices and seizing opportunities in the green economy, including access to finance and information, vulnerability to supply chain disruptions and difficulties with reporting requirements in a complex regulatory environment. These challenges are even greater for minority-owned businesses, which often face higher rates for capital due to limited access to assets, shorter credit histories and discrimination based on gender, age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The UN Global Compact has an extensive history of working with SMEs to achieve their sustainability goals, with SMEs comprising more than half of their 20,000 plus Participants. Successful Sustainable Supplier Impact projects in India, Nigeria, Kenya and Spain have promoted deeper collaboration between large participant companies and their suppliers on urgent sustainability challenges. These pilots have established a community of practice for collaborative learning, facilitated market and financial incentives for SMEs, and equipped suppliers with the knowledge and tools necessary to operationalize the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.

“We are committed to delivering a robust set of skills and tools through our programmes to ensure SMEs can deliver on sustainability wherever they are.,” said Ojiambo. “In recent years, the UN Global Compact expanded its presence in developing countries through country networks and launched five regional hubs in Abuja, Bangkok, Panama City, Copenhagen and Dubai, all of which have a dedicated focal point on SMEs and sustainable supplier engagement.”

A key pillar of the new programme is the SPARK Collective, a community of SME participants and suppliers. Participating SMEs will gain a competitive advantage by branding their businesses as preferred suppliers and accessing a dynamic community of practice for collaborative learning and targeted action on urgent sustainability challenges such as scope 3 emissions, anti-corruption, gender equality, reporting and compliance. Large companies will also benefit by driving the adoption of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact across their supply chains and ensuring their suppliers remain relevant in today’s market.

Notes to Editors

About the UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the UN Global Compact is a call to companies worldwide to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. With more than 20,000 participating companies, 5 Regional Hubs, 62 Country Networks covering 77 countries and 14 Country Managers establishing Networks in 20 other countries, the UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative — one Global Compact uniting business for a better world.


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