On December 21, the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation hosted a solemn session of the UN Global Compact Network Russia "Sustainable Development – Superidea Changing the World." The partners of the session were the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, the Civic Chamber of Russia, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, the Joint Program of the Russian Federation and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN in the Russian Federation.The session was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the UN Global Compact, that crossed the 20-year milestone of its existence 2021 in partnership with the global private sector, bringing together more than 14,000 participants in 160 countries. Also in the spotlight were the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the 5th anniversary of the Association "National Network of the Global Compact" and the launch of the updated UNGC Strategy for 2021–2023.
The UNGC Strategy for 2021–2023 is aimed at speeding up business progress in embedding the Ten Principles of the UNGC on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption, as well as the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. UN Secretary General António Guterres – Chairman of the UN Global Compact Board – has called the acceleration of corporate sustainability the main goal of the Strategy.
During the session, the updated strategy of the Association "National Network of the Global Compact" was presented under the motto "Ambition. Acceleration. Progress." Updating the network's business model focuses on sustainable development growth points, strengthening the capacity of expert competencies and the role of the local network as a navigator in the international landscape of sustainable development practices and ESG. At the same time, the UNGC Network Russia has got new mandate and opportunities to measure the progress of the UNGC participants based on criteria and a new reporting format for the UNGC participants, as well as to nominate the UNGC country leaders by applying the methodology of the UN Global Compact Network Russia Special Recognition national nomination for the UNGC participants in Russia to be launched in 2022.
Guests and speakers of the session were top officials of government bodies (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Russia, etc.), the UN in Russia (the UN Information Center, OHCHR, UNEP, FAO, ILO, etc.) , top managers of leading companies, participants and partners of the UN Global Compact Network Russia, media personalities, mass media, experts (NGOs, universities and business schools, centers of sustainable development expertise, etc.)
The participants and speakers of the session included Sanda Ojiambo, Executive and General Director of the UN Global Compact, Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Sergey Vershinin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Anatoly Chubais, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Relations with International Organizations to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals, Rashid Aluash, Coordinator of the Joint Program of the Russian Federation and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Grigory Lukyantsev, Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Tobias Privitelli, Minister and Deputy Ambassador of Switzerland to the Russian Federation, Gleb Prozorov, First General Director of Interfax Information Services Group, Elena Feoktistova, Managing Director for Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Development and Social Entrepreneurship of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Deputy Chairperson of the Board of the Association "National Network of the Global Compact", senior-most officials and top-managers of the largest Russian companies.
In his greeting to the participants, Sergey Vasilyevich Vershinin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, noted: “Today's event is being held with the support of our ministry, taking into account the key role that business plays in achieving the UN SDGs. In July 2020, at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council, our country for the first time presented its Voluntary National Review of progress made in achieving the SDGs.
And its main conclusion: despite all the difficulties, the Russian Federation is heading for all the SDGs implementation and has already achieved the targets set in a number of indicators. We consider the contribution of the business community to these achievements to be decisive. The domestic companies’ commitment to the principles of corporate social responsibility contributes to the sustainable development of our economy and, considering the balance of economic, social and environmental factors of growth, makes it even more dynamic. In the world, sustainability issues have largely become the philosophy of entrepreneurship."
The first part of the event included a discussion on the role of CEOs of companies representing the UN Global Compact in Russia and developing the sustainable development agenda. Representatives of Sovcombank, Metalloinvest, Severstal and other participants in the UN Global Compact shared their experience, best practices and ideas in that regard.
One of the guests of the session was Anatoly Chubais, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Relations with International Organizations to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals. Anatoly Chubais said that work was underway at the Government level to strengthen the sustainability principles implementation in business activities and emphasized that for owners and top officials of companies, the choice in favor of the SDGs was a personal moral choice: “Today these are no longer general political statements, not some lyrical appeals. No, this is a distinct program ... Life is complicated, it often happens that one has to pay dearly for a moral choice. And then we have found ourselves in an absolutely amazing situation ... This is the case when the right moral choice leads to the right business outcome."
The second part of the session was devoted to the presentation of Russia's first two-year international project on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which the UNGC National Network was launching jointly with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the support of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, as well as the participants of the UN Global Compact Network Russia – POLYUS, Sakhalin Energy, Metalloinvest and Severstal companies.
Rashid Aluash, Coordinator of the Joint Program of the Russian Federation and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted: “The Guiding Principles are of great importance today because they clearly define the role of business in respecting human rights, strictly outline the role of the state and the role of business in this process and show where they should complement each other. There is a new international trend – due diligence, which is becoming mandatory with the emergence of new regulations, both at the national and the organizational levels. Now we are talking about the development of an International Treaty to regulate the implementation of due diligence principles. It is very important for business representatives to carefully study and implement these trends. Consistently and systematically. And today we are announcing the launch of a new project of the UN Global Compact Network Russia on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights in operational strategy of Russian business."