Investor coalition writes to 9,000 companies to pressure them on UN Global Compact

Campaign follows action on lapsed signatories earlier this year.

The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) has formed a pressure group of more than 50 global investors running about $4 trillion (€3.2 trillion) in assets to lobby companies they invest in to sign up to the UN Global Compact, a set of 10 corporate standards on human rights, working conditions, the environment and anti-corruption. In one of the biggest ever investor pushes in support of the Global Compact, the investors are writing to 9,000 listed companies around the world asking them to sign. They argue that companies meeting the standards show improved investment performance over time as a result of better governance. If successful, the campaign could significantly add to the 5,000 companies in approximately 130 countries that have already signed the Compact, which was launched in 2000 by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General. Anne-Maree O’Connor, head of responsible investment at the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the NZ$13.5bn (€6.8bn) national pension fund, part of the steering group for the initiative, said: “It is important to remember that these issues do not disappear during difficult economic times as we arenow experiencing. No company focused on the long term can afford to be fair weather advocates of these issues. Indeed, we believe companies that embrace good environmental, social and governance practices can achieve a competitive advantage in an increasingly challenging marketplace.”
Signatories to the UNPRI have increasingly been pushing for companies to live up to the standards of its sister corporate charter.
Earlier this year, a group of PRI signatories representing $2.13 trillion in assets, announced they were targeting companies paying lip service to their commitment to the Compact.

The investors wrote to the chief executive officers of 103 companies in more than 30 different countries. The letter called on laggard companies to improve performance in adopting the Global Compact while praising others that had recorded ‘notable’ progress under the UN’s rating criteria.