2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit Update

This past week the UN Global Compact Leaders’ Summit took place in New York and for the fourth straight year, we took an active role.

The compact is a voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support Sustainable Development goals. What is great about the compact is that it is 100% business driven.

As an organization we are vocal about our advocacy of the UN Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is my personal belief that organizations that have influence on practitioners of any kind, whether it be construction, healthcare, legal, or baristas. that they take a stand (or at the least state their position) on environmental, social and economic issues.

It is simply not enough to develop standards of business practice while ignoring the challenges that humanity at-large is facing. Wait. Sorry, that is being too soft.  To ignore issues such as climate change, poverty, hunger, rule of law, and inequality is completely irresponsible.

A key focus of the Summit was turning risk into opportunity:

The global goals give the world a shared vision and ambition.  During the General Assembly Address UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated that “there is no plan b and there is no planet b.” It is critical that we find opportunities to work the SDGs into every industry, sector, and profession.

An appropriate poem to illustrate these issues are “the ambulance down in the valley” by Joseph Malins (1895)

As you read of it, think of the cliffs that we as humans are facing and also bout the fences and ambulances, and how we might tear down the cliffs rather than simply building more fences or throwing CSR dollars at them to drive ambulances.

‘ Twas a dangerous cliff, as they freely confessed,
Though to walk near its crest was so pleasant,
But over its terrible edge there had slipped,
A duke and full many a peasant.joel SDGs

So the people said something would have to be done,
But their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “Put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
Some, “An ambulance down in the valley.”

But the cry for the ambulance carried the day,
For it spread through the neighboring city,
A fence may be useful or not, it is true,
But each heart became moved with pity,

For those who slipped over that dangerous cliff;
And the dwellers on highway and alley
Gave pounds and gave pence not to put up a fence,
But an ambulance down in the valley.

Then an old sage remarked, “it’s a marvel to me
That people give far more attention
To repairing the results than to stopping the cause,
When they’d much better aim at prevention.

“Let us stop at its source all this hurt,” cried he.
“Come, neighbors and friends, let us rally.
If the cliff we will fence, we might almost dispense
With the ambulance down in the valley.

To succeed, we have to view the 17 SD Goals and 169 targets as a unifying platform that can be integrated into project management standards as measures of success.  To build a sustainable world by 2030, by tackling issues that seem insurmountable will take everyone doing their part.

At the Summit, Accenture presented their 2016 CEO survey which had an interesting point. 1000 CEOs were surveyed from 100 countries and 25 industries.
GPM at the United Nations

The majority of CEOs surveyed (87%) believe the SDGs provide an opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainable value creation—and 78% already see opportunities to contribute through core business.
These CEOs are not the outliers.  Their perception is based on the reality of their business and what it will take to avoid disruption and succeed using a long term f why is this not a bigger topic among project managers? Do we not drive business initiatives?  Is it because the project lifecycle is linear (and outdated)? It is time to rethink what project success is and what value is.  I believe it is.

From the survey, 73% of CEOs believe that business should develop common indicators to measure and communicate impact on the SDGs, our P5 is free!

We will continue our series on the SDGs with #4 Quality Education next week.

Dr. Joel Carboni

Dr. Joel Carboni is a highly respected expert in sustainable project management. He is a graduate of Ball State University and holds a Ph.D. in Sustainable Development and Environment. He has over 25 years of experience in project management, including government, finance, consulting, manufacturing, and education. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and events related to project management and sustainability and has worked in more than 50 countries. In addition to serving as President Emeritus of the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in the United States and being a member of the Global advisory board, Dr. Carboni is also the founder of GPM (Green Project Management) and a visiting professor at Skema Business School. He is also the GPM representative to the United Nations Global Compact, where he was a founding signatory of the Business for Peace Initiative and the Anti-Corruption call to action and a contributor to the development of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). Dr. Carboni is the creator of the PRiSM™ project delivery methodology and the P5 Standard for Sustainability in Project Management and has written training programs on Green and Sustainable Project Management that are offered in more than 145 countries through professional training providers, business associations, and universities. He is the lead author of the book "Sustainable Project Management."

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