Last week, the UN Global Compact Network Australia held its first ‘Welcome Event’ in Sydney. Launched in May 2009, and hosted by the St James Ethics Centre, the Australian Network aims to become Australia’s strongest corporate citizenship initiative – its first year has already seen an increase in signatories of 50%.

Hosted by KPMG, the event marked an opportunity for signatory companies and stakeholders to hear about the 10th Anniversary and Leaders Summit in New York, and discuss major trends likely to shape the future direction of corporate responsibility.

Among those highlighted were:

• The launch of the UNGC Blueprint for Corporate Sustainability Leadership, which calls for the fuller integration of the 10 principles into corporate strategy, support of wider UN goals and issues, and more local engagement by signatories.
• The memorandum of understanding signed between the Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), aiming to provide an integrated roadmap to sustainable business practice and accountability.
• Momentum for both mandatory and integrated reporting, mirrored in the establishment of the International Integrated Reporting Committee, whose remit is to “create a globally accepted framework for accounting for sustainability” by 2020.
• Growing demand for, and integration of, ESG (environmental, social, governance) information by the investment community, led by signatories of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) which has seen over US$20 trillion of assets signed to the principles in just four years.

Together, these developments show a convergence and mainstreaming of sustainability – a tipping point where corporate responsibility moves from ‘nice’ to have, to ‘need’ to have. But there remains plenty of room for leadership, experimentation and differentiation.

The Australian UNGC Network offers signatories both a platform and learning forum for such leadership. As well as being a clearinghouse for new corporate responsibility resources,
it aims to stimulate thinking and stretch boundaries in corporate responsibility.

Another great opportunity for this will be Thursday 14th October, when, together with the GRI Focal Point Australia, the Network will host an exclusive event, “In conversation with John Elkington.” On the agenda – directions in accountability, the role of the C-suite and the alchemy of corporate transformation. One Stone has been instrumental in organizing the event, and will also play a key role moderating. For more information, contact Rosemary Sainty, Head, Secretariat Global Compact Network Australia: rsain@ethics.org.au