Catherine Hunter, Chair
Alice Cope, Executive Manager
From the Chair & Executive Manager
The last year has been nothing short of historic for the sustainability agenda and hugely significant for the Global Compact Network Australia.
The Paris Climate Agreement and launch of the UN Sustainable Development Goals have ushered in a new era for sustainability, and we are seeing growing expectations on business to define a purpose beyond profit and play their part in these global agendas. In Australia, the GCNA’s growing membership base, reach and impact has reflected this global momentum.
We have seen key developments across all of our workstreams, and the GCNA has had its busiest year to date, delivering 31 workshops, forums, roundtables and other events to over 1,300 participants.
International and local developments in business and human rights – including the launch of the global Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and the announcement by the Australian Government of national consultations on business and human rights – are driving continued energy in this space. As we issue this report, our third Australian Human Rights Dialogue is around the corner, and facing unprecedented levels of interest.
We have also seen growing activity in the anticorruption space as the Australian Government and others around the world focus on enforcement of bribery and corruption regulations, and the GCNA has provided a key channel for engagement with Australian regulators.
Our Environment Leadership Group has covered two of the most critical environmental challenges facing business – climate change and water.
We have also been thrilled to build a strong partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade launched with Foreign Minister, the Hon. Julie Bishop MP, in August 2015. Under the partnership, we launched our fourth stream of work – the Sustainable Development Leadership Group – focused on engaging business in development and the SDGs. The GCNA-DFAT partnership has accelerated the GCNA’s growing reach and impact and provided a strong channel for businesses to engage with the Government around sustainable development issues.
Through our Sustainable Development Leadership Group, we have been delighted by the engagement in and uptake of the SDGs agenda by Australian businesses. This culminated in the launch of the GCNA’s CEO Statement of Support for the SDGs which was welcomed by government, civil society and other stakeholders.
The challenge and opportunity for the GCNA and its members now is to build on this early momentum, and shift from business as usual to using the SDGs to drive different approaches.
It is clear that businesses are facing increasing complexity in their operating environments. Alongside this, we are seeing the mainstreaming of sustainability issues. This places sustainability professionals at the heart of discussions around risk and opportunity, and we look forward to continuing to provide a platform for unpacking the complexities and exploring the opportunities.
Thank you to the GCNA Board for their commitment and leadership. Their significant contributions in time and energy are critical to our continued success. During the year, we farewelled two Directors who resigned from the Board on leaving their GCNA member organisations. Alison Ewings had been Chair of our Environment Leadership Group for two and a half years, and a member of our Nominations and Governance Committee. Chantelle Pritchard brought great expertise to our Finance, Risk and Audit Committee. We thank Alison and Chantelle for their contributions.
Finally, thank you to all of our members. We are only as strong as our membership, and your willingness to support the GCNA and its activities, share your expertise and insights, and contribute to what really has become a true network of passionate sustainability advocates.
We are delighted to share the GCNA’s 2016 Annual Report: A Year of Growth and Impact.