The Application for the 2023 SDG Pioneer program closed May 3, 2023!

As part of the 2023 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers program, UN Global Compact Network USA  is searching for professionals to recognize who are committed to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Each year the UN Global Compact recognizes a class of SDG Pioneers — business leaders working at any level of their company who are using business as a force for good to advance the 17 SDGs. Through their own company or by mobilizing other businesses, they are helping to reach one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while also contributing to business success.

The UN Global Compact Network USA will award two SDG Pioneers this year. One to represent Small & Medium-sized enterprises (<250 employees), and one to represent Large National & Multi-National Companies. Please note that companies must have submitted at least 1 CoP and be a signatory since 1 October 2022 to be eligible for this opportunity.

The UN Global Compact Network USA will award the two 2023 Global Compact Network USA SDG Pioneers at the local level, announced on June 30, 2023. The selected individuals will then have the opportunity to participate in the final search of global SDG Pioneers to be recognized during the 2023 UN General Assembly in September in New York.

The Communications on Progress (CoP)

The Communication on Progress introduced in 2004, is the annual public disclosure by participating companies of the United Nations Global Compact on how they are upholding and implementing the Ten Principles. A CoP is a direct communication from participating companies to their stakeholders, and each disclosure is made public in the UN Global Compact website. Submitting an annual CoP is a requirement for being a participating company of the UN Global Compact.

- Strengthen accountability regarding the performance of UN Global Compact participating companies on both the Ten Principles and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

- Promote continued learning by embedding examples of best practices in each question and providing access to additional guidance and reference materials,

- Improve stakeholder access to relevant and comparable corporate data on the Ten Principles and SDGs.

The new CoP

Since the last revision of the CoP in 2010, the reporting landscape has substantially evolved with a growing number of reporting frameworks and initiatives, including the Action Platform ‘Reporting on the SDGs’ co-led by the UN Global Compact. The demand for consistent and reliable corporate ESG data by stakeholders has also significantly increased over the past decade. In parallel, a review of the UN system commissioned by the Secretary-General revealed the need to hold companies accountable and recommended making change sin the CoP requirement to better recognize corporate sustainability leadership and impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2021-2023 strategy of the UN Global Compact also calls for more accountable companies.

The current features of the CoP are not commensurate with this evolving landscape and do not fully account for a comprehensive integration of the UN sustainability agenda, particularly the SDGs. Additionally, the CoP does not provide a systematic way to mine, aggregate or compare data nor track the progress of companies against the Ten Principles, which poses a key challenge and reputational risk for the organization and does not provide added value to participants.

The UN Global Compact has undertaken a comprehensive review of the CoP to update this integrity and accountability mechanism, and adapt it to new trends in the market. Starting in 2023, all participating companies will be required to disclose using the new CoP

The new CoP, a requirement for all participating companies starting in 2023,constitutes a significant revision from the CoP currently in place. The new CoP will consist of the submission of two elements: a) a statement by the Chief Executive Officer expressing continued support for the UN Global Compact, and b) an online questionnaire (CoP Questionnaire). More specifically, changes to the CoP policy include:

  • Transitioning from a narrative format (requesting the submission of a report) to a standardized questionnaire (requesting the online completion of a set of questions on the Ten Principles and the SDGs)
  • Introducing a Digital Signature System for submission of the statement of the Chief Executive Officer
  • Introducing a universal submission period (February through May of each year)
  • Reducing the“ non-communication period” from twelve to six months
  • Having one single questionnaire and therefore no differentiation levels (which are likely to be introduced over the next several years)
  • No ‘CoP Express’ Form

The new CoP is not a new reporting standard, but a platform designed to provide value to participants and support the strategy of the UN Global Compact. Many questions in the new CoP questionnaire are based on existing standards and frameworks and have been adjusted to a multiple-choice format to allow for comparability and to make it easier and faster for companies to answer. For questions that are linked to specific reporting standards (e.g., GRI),companies disclosing using those standards will already have the needed information to answer those specific questions in the CoP questionnaire.

Requirements under the new CoP

All participating companies will be required to disclose using the new CoP starting in 2023.

In 2023, the new CoP will become mandatory for all participants. Participating companies will need to submit their CoP between 1 March and 30 June every year. If participants fail to submit their CoP during this time period, they will enter a 6-month ‘non-communication’ status period, which lasts from July through December. The company will be delisted if it fails to submit its CoP by 31 December.

Yes, all participating companies will fill out the same CoP questionnaire, which contains questions that are relevant/material to businesses across sectors, geographies, and size. Most questions come with answer options that provide flexibility to businesses that have no data on certain topics.

The time to complete the questionnaire will vary from company to company and depend, among other things, on a company’s internal data collection process as well as on the range of its activities in connection with the Ten Principles the company is implementing. The estimated duration can vary from two hours(e.g., for a small company operating at the local level only) to two days (for larger multinationals). After submitting their first new CoP, business participants will need less time to respond to each new questionnaire in subsequent years, as certain questions are designed to auto-populate in future CoPs.

The questionnaire will be revised on an annual basis. While many questions are expected to remain unchanged over a longer period of time to allow for data comparability over years, some questions may be edited, for example, to reflect developments in the corporate sustainability reporting landscape or based on user-experience feedback. Also, new (mandatory and/or optional) questions on topics relevant to the UN Global Compact and its strategy (e.g., on gender or climate change) are expected to be developed over the coming years.

The CoP is a tool for public disclosure, while data from the SDG Action Manager is not meant for public disclosure. Both the CoP and the SDG Action Manager support internal management and decision-making processes. While there is an overlap among the topics each of these tools addresses, the structure of the CoP questionnaire is focused on the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact, while the SDG Action Manager questionnaire is focused on the SDGs