This is the challenge facing the newly appointed Sanda Ojiambo of Kenya as Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact as she took over office on June 17, and it was the challenge facing her predecessor, Lise Kingo of Denmark.
As the second woman to be appointed in the role, Kenyan business leader Ms. Ojiambo is entrusted to steer the work of the Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative, and broadening its contribution to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms. Ojiambo brings 20 years of experience to lead the UN Global Compact in its next phase to mobilize a global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders and bring the full weight of the private sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She has served as Head of Sustainable Business and Social Impact, Safaricom Plc, Kenya since 2010.
"I am honored by this appointment from the Secretary-General to carry the mission of the UN Global Compact forward in its efforts to mobilize businesses through its Ten Principles and in support of the Sustainable Development Goals," said Sanda Ojiambo. "I congratulate Lise Kingo for her exemplary leadership over the last five years and look forward to joining the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative very soon."
In launching the UN Global Compact, Kofi Annan made a reminder that “we all have an active choice to take - between a global market driven by calculation and short-term profit and one which has a human face. Between a world which condemns a quarter of the human race to starvation and squalor, and one which offers everyone at least a chance of prosperity, in a healthy environment. Between a selfish free-for-all in which we ignore the fate of the losers and a future in which the strong and successful accept their responsibilities, showing global vision and leadership. Failing to do so, he cautioned, would make the global economy fragile and vulnerable to the backlash of all the isms protectionism, populism, nationalism, ethnic chauvinism, and so forth.”
In her parting shot, Ms. Kingo throws several questions that seek introspection. Have we lost our way?
As we set out to commemorate the 75th-anniversary of the UN and the 20thanniversary of the UN Global Compact, we must look around the world at what is happening in front of our eyes - the obvious failure to deliver on those most fundamental values and principles that bind us all together. With Kofi Annan’s words ringing true in our ears, we must ask ourselves - have we lost our way?
COVID-19 has exposed the fragile nature of our progress. The hard truth is that our failure to create a more socially just world has worsened the current crisis, and could hamper our ability to recover faster. Even before the pandemic, social inequalities were widening for more than 70 percent of the global population. One thing was that economies had bounced back to the levels recorded before the 2008 financial crisis, but in reality, economic growth and labor productivity were mainly carried by low-paid, low-quality, and low-security jobs, with more than half the world’s population - 4 billion people not covered by any social safety net.