December 05, 2014

UN Global Compact and RICS launch global consultation to improve responsible business practices within the built environment

UN Global Compact and RICS launch global consultation to improve responsible business practices within the built environment

Following their joint announcement earlier this year, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and RICS launched the public consultation process to develop a Best Practice Toolkit for the land, construction and real estate sector at the World Sustainable Building Conference (SB14) in Barcelona, Spain.

The development of the toolkit is part of a two-year project to clarify the relevance of the 10 Global Compact principles for the sector. This sector-based approach can help to strengthen the business contribution to sustainable development and provide a framework for action. The project is supported by a Steering Group of Global Compact participants and a dedicated RICS Global Member Advisory Group from across the property lifecycle with background in development, real estate use, recovery and end of life.

The toolkit will be developed through a whole lifecycle approach, which is unique in a sector known for its high levels of fragmentation along the value chain, including the supply chain.

The land, construction and real estate sector represents approximately 70% of global wealth, highlighting the economic impact of the sector across world markets. Throughout the sectoral lifecycle the built environment also has a significant impact on the environment and communities through land development, resource use, waste generation, human rights and labour rights.

Against this background, the toolkit’s core elements comprise of: a mapping of critical issues in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption that may affect companies within the sector; a set of actions companies can take to align their strategies and operations with the Global Compact principles; and a set of case studies showcasing sectoral best practice.

The launch of the public consultation at SB14 forms part of a dedicated Sustainable Real Estate Forum jointly organized and supported by the UN Global Compact, RICS, the UN Environmental Programme’s Financial Initiative (UNEP FI), UNEP’s Sustainable Buildings and Climate Initiative (UNEP SBCI) and the European Union-funded RenoValue project.

RICS Chief Executive Officer, Sean Tompkins, said: “Across many sectors a new theme is emerging for both future leaders and future businesses – doing well, financially and doing good, responsibly. There is a strong desire to get businesses to not only disclose transparent financial and operational performance, but also their responsibility performance. Given its economic, environmental and social impact, the built environment needs to show leadership not just in doing well but also in doing good.”

“This is why RICS joined forces with the UN Global Compact to develop the Best Practice Toolkit and I would like to thank the UN Global Compact for having put their trust in us and for having provided us with a platform from where we are able to reach out to its large network of participants, most of whom are downstream users of our sector in one shape or another.”

“I therefore invite all RICS members and the wider stakeholder community, whether they are directly involved in planning, development, design and management of buildings or whether they are interacting with our sector as occupiers, investors and suppliers, to participate in the global Toolkit consultation. This is an opportunity to shape a tool that will not only demonstrate existing best practice but that will also map tangible steps that built environment stakeholders can take to turn their own business activities into the best practice case studies of the future.”

Ursula Wynhoven, Chief, Governance and Social Sustainability, and General Counsel for UN Global Compact, said, “We welcome UN Global Compact participants from the land, construction and real estate sector to participate in this important sectoral consultation process, thereby helping to improve responsible business practices within the built environment and drive greater financial, economic, social and environmental sustainability throughout the value chain.”

The consultation aims to engage the industry itself as well as its downstream users and service providers, and other built environment stakeholders. The consultation process, which includes an online questionnaire and co-hosted in-person consultations in key markets, is open through 16 March 2015. Delivery of the final toolkit is scheduled for June 2015 in London.

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