Active participation by the business community is increasingly acknowledged as vital to sustainable development.
The UN Global Compact is a framework for businesses. It compels participants to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, and to act in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Leaders from the Uzbek private sector recently came together to discuss what more can be done to champion the UN objectives at a flagship conference “Championing Business Sustainability”.
The forum was initiated and championed by the country’s first members of the UNGC; home appliance manufacturer Artel Electronics, supermarket chain Korzinka, and cotton company Silverleafe LLC.
Representatives of more than 70 companies participated in the forum, Uzbekistan’s first event dedicated to incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices into business operations.
By becoming parties to the UN Global Compact, companies commit themselves to promoting the ten principles of the UN Global Compact. These cover the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
By incorporating the principles into strategies, policies, and procedures, and establishing a culture of integrity, companies are not only upholding their basic responsibilities to people and planet, but also setting the stage for long-term success.
Growing expectations from customers, employees and investors for business are putting pressure on companies around the world and, the conference hears, this has been underlined by the recent global pandemic.
Business in Uzbekistan, it was said, are also expected to begin to contribute to the “development of a more sustainable and just world. “
In a keynote speech, the UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan, Roli Asthana, emphasized the “crucial role” of the private sector in achieving national and global sustainable development goals by moving to and promoting sustainable business practices.
She said, “In recent years, Uzbekistan has been taking progressive steps towards a more sustainable future. We can see it from the government’s actions, and it is very commendable. At the same time, I want to stress that sustainable development cannot be achieved only through cooperation with the government as the private sector is also an integral part of inclusive and sustainable growth. As the UN Secretary-General once mentioned, “there is no single global goal where private sector effort is not in demand.”
Other participants included Sanda Ojiambo, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, and representatives from the private sector, international organizations and the UN Global Compact offices in Turkey, Georgia, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Further comment came from Bektemir Murodov - Chief Financial Officer of Artel Electronics, a leader in the production of household appliances and electronics in Central Asia which employs over 10,000 people.
Murodov told the event, “We are very proud to be supporting the conversation around sustainable development in Uzbekistan alongside Korzinka, Silverleafe, and the UN. We are just at the beginning of our journey. However, we are working everyday alongside partners to improve our ESG position and implement meaningful changes for the sustainable future of our company and Uzbekistan.”
Furthermore, Zafar Khashimov, Founder and Chairman of Supervisory Board, "Korzinka" supermarket chain highlighted the importance of a sustainable and long-term approach to decision-making, saying, “We started our business activity by establishing modern, organized retail chain in Uzbekistan, and transition from short term goals to long term sustainable goals gives a lot of challenges for companies But overall, it proved that long-term strategies are much more profitable and economically effective.” “
Rusyan Jill Mamiit, Development Cooperation Officer for Partnerships and Development Finance, United Nations Office in Uzbekistan, who said the conference had “heard businesses through the voices of Artel, Korzinka, and Silverleafe reaffirm their commitment to sustainable development.
“We also heard from the United Nations its willingness to work shoulder to shoulder with the private sector to accelerate sustainability principles. While today’s event is ending, this is for many of us just the beginning of a joint journey where dedication, patience, and tenacity are much-needed as the returns on sustainability investment takes time to unfold. Let us all keep this tenacity, the patience and dedication.”
Uzbekistan joined the UN on 2 March 1992 and the UN Office opened in Tashkent the following year. The UN Country Team (UNCT) in Uzbekistan currently comprises 25 UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes.
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