27 januari 2007
Under construction: Dutch Chapter of Global Compact
The Global Compact is an initiative of former UN-secretary-general Kofi Annan to accelerate poverty reduction worldwide, by bringing companies together with UN agencies, labour and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles. Since it was launched in 2000, some 1,000 companies became members of the Global Compact. This means they promise to adhere to ten Principles, ranging from abolishing forced labour, discrimination and corruption, to promoting human rights and introducing environmentally safe technologies.
Meanwhile some fifty regional or national Chapters have been erected, but as yet not in the Netherlands. In April last year, the CEOs of TNT, Shell, Unilever and ABN AMRO wrote a letter to Kofi Annan, announcing they would initiate the funding of a Dutch Chapter. Some time later KLM-Air France joined in. The position of the remaining twelve Dutch companies who are members of the Global Compact is still unclear. Bram Rutgers van der Loeff explains why: "It is easy to sign a declaration, but coming to tangible arrangements it quite another matter. We are now in the process of finding out what the added value of a Dutch Chapter could be. It is senseless to construct a new forum for tasks that are already fulfilled by international organisations like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), or national organisations like CSR Netherlands or the Dutch business network Society and Company. So, we are investigating the possibility of having a program that is obviously different from others. If not, companies will not be interested in erecting a national Chapter."
What kind of activities should we think of, that might give a national Chapter its added value? Rutgers van der Loeff: "Suppose several companies have operations in Kenya. Together they might be able to make a stronger point towards the Kenyan or Dutch government to get projects started. Or they could try to create public-private partnerships. Mind you, these are only examples, we have not made a choice yet. One thing we know is that it is not possible to simply copy the programs of other national Chapters. Every country has its own way of dealing with issues."
P+ webtip: UN Global Compact