In the year 2000, with an aim to conjoin private sector activities with civil society initiatives, and for the establishment of an inclusive corporate sustainability in the global economy, a leadership platform with a global dimension – United Nation Global Compact was launched by the then UN Secretary – General Kofi Anan. The UNGC primarily operates on four fold realms – Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-Corruption, and are further dispersed into ten universally accepted principles adopted by diverse signatories across geographies, as value based approaches in achieving sustainable development. Over the years, with more than 10,700 participants including over 7000 businesses in 135 countries, as a network-based initiative, it has established 101 local networks over the world and operates with an internal yet diverse governance framework. With 298 signatories, UNGC has transformed into being one of the largest corporate citizenship and responsibility initiatives in the world and continues to aspire companies to voluntarily channelize their operations and strategies for the development and implementation of responsible business practices through the support of seven UN agencies such as, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR), ILO, UNODC, UNDP, UNIDO and UNIFEM.
In taking forward this agenda of the UNGC in the Indian context, the Indian local partner of the UNGC, the Global Compact Society was launched in December 2000 with the participation of leading Indian organizations. And, on 24th Nov 2003 in New Delhi, it was registered as a legal entity and was named as Global Compact Network India – the Indian arm of UNGC. Global Compact Network India (GCNI) is a platform, for businesses, private sector organisations, civil society organizations public sector and institutions. As a network, GCNI enables aligning of various stakeholders’ practices towards the Ten Universally Accepted Principles of UNGC in the areas of Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti – corruption.
Human Rights- Businesses should:
- Principle 1: Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
- Principle 2: Make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Labour Standards- Businesses should uphold:
- Principle 3: the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
- Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
- Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.
Environment -Businesses should:
- Principle 7: support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
- Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote environmental responsibility; and
- Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
- Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
The Global Compact Network India works towards mainstreaming the ten universally acceptable principles in business activities around the world, catalysing action in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and setting the tone for the post 2015 development agenda within the Indian context.
At present, the India network ranks among the top 3, out of the 101 local networks in the world, and has emerged as the largest corporate citizenship and social responsibility organization in the country with a pan Indian membership. With a membership of 151 renowned organizations as GCNI pivotal signatories, the local India network in the last 9 years of its functioning has created a strong niche for itself. GCNI members represent pertinent sectors of the country such as civil society, private, and public sector organisations, which with time have strengthened their commitment to the UN’s Global Compact principles. The main objective of the Network is to provide a forum to various Indian companies and organizations for co – partnerships, build strong network and promote sustainable and positive corporate citizenship by encouraging various Indian Corporate bodies/ Institutions/ NGOs/ SMEs, to become members of the network, all these together aid in dissemination and promotion of global compact principles within their own milieu.
GCNI currently has its local chapters in 5 major Indian cities, which include Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata and Bangalore, and thus has facilitated its own expansion amongst local and regional counterparts widely operating within the country. As a sole Indian arm of the UNGC, the Global Compact Network India has established a semiotic relationship with the overall mandate and principles of the UNGC. Through its activities and programmes such as the India CEO forum on Human Rights, Women Empowerment Principles, Collective Action Project, National Convention, etc. GCNI continues to streamline its energies towards the promotion of the UNGC core areas and sustainable and responsible practices amongst its member belonging to the private sector along with the participation of public and civil society stakeholders of India.
The governance of the Global Compact Network India (GCNI) is led by a Governing Council elected every two years by the General Body, supreme body of the GCNI’s governance structure, consisting of GCNI’s members. The Governing Council members include President, Vice Presidents representing four regions (North, South, East, West), Treasurer, Secretary, co-opted members and special invitees. The governing council is mandated to execute the general policies of the society in conformity with the objects of the MOU, pass and deliberate on organisational resolutions, appoint Chief Executive and determine their power and responsibilities constitute committees and delegate powers and manage finances. The Governing Council meets in practice once every four months, in a meeting convened by the Secretary.
To support and facilitate the Governing Council there is an Administration Committee. The Administration Committee guides the Secretariat on functional matters and supports it to carry out the Global Compact’s mandate in India. The Administration Committee in general meets six times a year or as the need may be to discuss and deliberate on matters affecting the efficiency and effectiveness of the Secretariat and evaluate its work and staff.
To provide the Secretariat with support and guidance, dedicated sub-committees have been constituted on key areas of interventions. These committees, constituted of Global Compact Network India’s member organisations and experts, work on key areas of concern, premised on the UNGC principles.
The Secretariat also in its day to day operations is supported and guided by an Operations Committee. The Committee in practice meets whenever matters seeking immediate resolution are brought up by the Secretariat.
To further the Global Compact and carry forward the Global Compact’s mandate on the day to day functioning, the Global Compact Network India is supported by a Secretariat headed by an Executive Director.
In furthering the Global Compact agenda within India, GCNI is conceptualising unique and pioneering initiatives such as the India Sustainability Dialogue, the Asia Pacific Resource Centre on Responsible Business Practices, CEO Forums and India Collaboration Lab. These activities aim at strengthening the commitments of the Indian partners towards the Global Compact Principles and creating opportunities for other partners to join in the efforts in supporting the UN Global Mandate. These initiatives aspires to establish the India Local Network as a knowledge pool for accessing relevant learning and resources and a think tank for promoting activities and programmes on sustainable development.
The members of the local network have over the year’s showcased increasing commitment towards the UNGC principles and have voluntarily set milestone to achieve them within their businesses. These achievements are reported to the UNGC on an annual basis to through the report on Communication of Progress (CoP). The companies and organisations, through the CoP submit to the UNGC
- A statement expressing continued support and commitment to the initiative and the principles of the Global Compact
- A description of practical actions taken by the company or the organization to implement the Global Compact principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, anti-corruption.
- A measurement of outcomes and the results that have been achieved
Global Compact Network India is actively involved in promotion and galvanisation of 10 principles of the UNGC that revolve around Human Rights, Labour Standards, Environment and Anti-Corruption and has plans to expand its reach, influence and improve reporting standards of its member organisations through training, development and capacity building in the years to follow.