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Harnessing Collective Action at Scale: Introducing UN Global Compact’s SME Engagement Strategy – Leader Summit 2022

Harnessing Collective Action at Scale: Introducing UN Global Compact’s SME Engagement Strategy – Leader Summit 2022

SMEs are the engine of private sector growth, both in developing and developed economies, and are critical to the fulfillment of the Global Goals. Globally, SMEs account for 90 percent of businesses and 50 percent of total employment, with formal firms constituting 40 percent of GDP in emerging economies. The ILO reports that in developing economies, seven out of 10 jobs are created by SMEs. 

During the “Introducing UN Global Compact’s SME Engagement Strategy” session, stakeholders and the UN Global Compact have set out to accelerate and scale meaningful SME engagement in sustainability, in accordance with SME capacities and business realities.  The strategy provides meaningful pathways enabling SMEs to identify direct linkages between sustainability and profitability and absorb tailored content and programmatic interventions aligned with their absorptive capacities. 

This session featured panelists who are working on this new strategy as they share why this work is imperative, the vision for how the UNGC will reach SMEs around the world at scale, and how to practically deliver programming that will support SMEs in achieving business success while integrating responsible behavior at the core of their work.

The United Nations Global Compact was uniquely positioned to support companies on their journey to align their practices to a sustainable and inclusive future. The Ten Principles on human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption offer a blueprint for businesses seeking to be part of the collective effort to build back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. Cristina Sánchez – Un Global Compact Local Network Spain said, “Now is the time to scale up the global business community’s contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change. That is the overarching goal of the Global Compact’s strategic plan for 2021 through 2023.”

Robert Skidmore – International Trade Centre added that, “More must be done by businesses globally to accelerate corporate sustainability and responsible business practice. Our strategy and ambition are to grow and take our participants on a journey of demonstrated continuous improvement in the impact that they create.”

During the session 3 key shifts to boost business action and impact were identified:

  1. Accountable companies: UN Global Compact will strive to move its participant companies faster and farther than others in demonstrating progress on corporate sustainability and responsible business practices through specific, measurable targets within an enhanced reporting framework.
  2. Balanced growth of local and regional networks: Local UN Global Compact networks will be empowered to effect change and build more dynamic national ecosystems for business sustainability. This effort should lead to the launch of new national and regional Global Compact networks with a focus on the Global South, China and the U.S.
  3. Measurable impact in prioritized areas: UN Global Compact programs, co-created with local networks and delivered through them, focus on the Ten Principles to lead and shape action on five Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Climate Action (SDG 13), Peace Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) and Partnerships (SDG 17) while adapting to each country’s unique context.


  • Cristina Sánchez – Un Global Compact Local Network Spain
  • Sahba Sobhani – Undp Iicpsd
  • Luz Elena Barragán Bravo – Cemex, Mexico
  • Robert Skidmore – International Trade Centre (Itc)
  • Francisca Hernandez Uriz – Arpa

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