The United Nations Global Compact Network Sri Lanka is the local chapter of the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Earlier this year, it welcomed Dilhan C. Fernando CEO of Dilmah as Chairman and Azam Bakeer-Markar, Assistant Vice President Business Development and Head of Sustainability, Aitken Spence as Representative/CEO taking over from Dr. Rohan Fernando and Sutheash Balasubramaniam respectively. Together with a renewed Board of Directors, they reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring Sri Lanka’s business sector develops in a sustainable manner.

The Board of Directors comprises of CEOs and other leaders from a range of industries including: Supun Weerasinghe of Dialog, Darshi Talpahewa of Hayleys, Shakthi Ranatunga of MAS, Sumeet Verma of Unilever Sri Lanka and Denver De Zylva of Virtusa. They join Ravi Fernando of INSEAD and Rathika De Silva of DNV who were part of the original Board and Jorn Sorensen, Country Director of UNDP as an ex officio member. Established in 2006 and incorporated in 2011, the local chapter includes a total of 40 Sri Lankan companies; and join over 9,500 companies in this inter sectoral and international global movement.

Members follow Ten Guiding Principles aimed at connecting business practices with labour and human rights, the environment and anti-corruption. It further resolves to engage business to support the meeting of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Although adhering to the UN Global Compact is voluntary, the principles ensure that any organisation signing up for membership operate on a fundamental understanding of sustainability and uphold its values.

“The voluntary nature of the UN Global Compact raises the bar for all Companies in Sri Lanka to self-monitor, although it might be perceived as a tick box exercise, it challenges companies and their leaders to subscribe to a different way of doing business, said Dilhan C. Fernando, Chairman UNGC Network Sri Lanka.

“Business as a force for good that does no harm to the societal and environmental fabric of Sri Lanka has more opportunity versus a downside. The Companies within the UNGC SL Board, Steering Committee and Members already realise the value of this; we are keen on sharing this with others including small and medium enterprises so that they may gain the knowledge, tools and best practices and are able to benefit from it,” he concluded.

Over the past few months Dilmah, MAS Holdings and Unilever have supported forums, workshops and meetings to inform, collaborate and align to the guiding principles. An additional workshop was held for members on Communicating on Progress on 12 October from 3-5 p.m. at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at Navam Mawatha. Finally, a national and regional forum ‘Making Global Goals Local’ is planned for the 1st quarter of 2019.

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