Fewer than 20 Irish companies have signed up to UN Global Compact

Varadkar calls on more businesses to sign up to ethical and sustainable agenda

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar described the webinar event as a call to action. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar described the webinar event as a call to action. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

Fewer than 20 Irish companies have signed up to the UN Global Compact, under which businesses agree to abide by principles of environmental protection and social justice, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar has said.

He also noted that Ireland was one of the only remaining countries in Europe without a Global Compact network - there are plans to establish one later this year.

“That’s not to say that Irish companies are not committed to sustainability but signing up to the Global Compact is a public statement from your CEO with approval from the board to meet fundamental responsibilities in four areas, human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption,” he told a webinar event on the UN Global Compact in Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said the initiative, launched by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in 2000, was about aligning corporate and public policy goals.

He said the webinar event was effectively a call to action to get Irish companies to come on board.

Mr Varadkar said the Government would soon launch a new National Economic Plan for Ireland, “setting out how we can plan to build an inclusive jobs-led recovery.”

He said the pandemic had accelerated deep structural shifts already taking place across the economy, particularly the twin transitions of digital and green.

“The National Economic Plan will map out how we plan to recover but also how we can recover in a way that creates a more inclusive, a more resilient and more sustainable society,” he said.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 11,000 businesses across the globe had signed up to the Compact but “we’re still not moving fast enough” to achieve the UN’s sustainable development targets by 2030, he said.

“We still have 700 million people in extreme poverty, we’re on track to see temperatures rise by 3.5 degrees by the end of the century, rather than 1.5 degrees as we’ve committed,” he said.

“And at our current pace it will take 250 years to close the economic gender gap,” Mr Varadkar said.

Also speaking at the eventwas Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the United Nations Global Compact, who highlighted the urgent need for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, to contribute to more inclusive and resilient societies.

“Now more than ever, businesses in Ireland need to ramp up ambitious action across their operations and value chains if Ireland is to meet its commitment to the SDGs and the Paris Agreement,” she said.