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United Nations

What is the United Nations?

The United Nations (UN) is the largest international organization that exists. It was founded in 1945 after World War II; 51 countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, fostering friendly and cooperative relations among nations, and promoting social progress, raising the standard of living, and human rights.

Who are the members of the United Nations?

Currently, the UN has 193 member states, and only five countries in the world are not part of it: Kosovo, South Ossetia, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, and Transnistria. The Holy See participates as an observer state but not as a member; it believes that the UN’s roles are incompatible with its principles of non-militancy. The State of Palestine gained the same status as the Holy See, becoming a non-member observer state in 2012. Though this does not change its role in the UN, it does show progress for its international position.

What is the UN’s role?

The UN is a global governance association that facilitates cooperation on issues such as International Law, peace and international security, economic and social development, humanitarian affairs, and human rights.

The five pillars on which the UN is based are:

  1. Sustainable development.
  2. Prevention.
  3. Building a safer, more protected world through innovation and leveraging its core operations.
  4. Support for countries in transition.
  5. Working with women and young people and in their favor.

What is the UN Global Compact?

The Global Compact is the largest voluntary initiative for corporate social responsibility in the world. At the 1999 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on business leaders to partner with the UN to create a “global impact” on shared values and principles. Thus was born the United Nations Global Compact.

The Global Compact is an instrument of the UN that urges companies to incorporate the ten universal principles on human rights, labor, the environment, and the fight against corruption into their strategies and operations. The aim is to promote actions that will support achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) contain 169 objectives that each country must meet by 2030 to promote prosperity without leaving environmental protection behind. The purpose is to emphasize the fight against poverty in all its forms and to implement strategies that encourage growth.

What are the United Nations’ Universal Principles?

Human Rights

Principle #1. To support and respect the protection of human rights.

Principle #2. Not to be complicit in rights abuses.

Labor Standards

Principle #3. To support the principles of freedom of association and the right to collective negotiation.

Principle #4. To eliminate forced and compulsory labor.

Principle #5. To abolish any form of child labor.

Principle #6. To eliminate discrimination in employment and occupation.


Principle #7. Companies should support a precautionary approach that favors the environment.

Principle #8. Companies should foster initiatives that promote greater environmental responsibility.

Principle #9. Businesses should encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


Principle #10. Companies and institutions must work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly approved the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and, with it, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The agenda is a global call to adopt measures to bring an end to the planet’s biggest problems: ending poverty and inequality, achieving gender equality and access for all to decent work, offering access to health services and proper education, protecting the environment, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity.

The Sustainable Development Goals provide companies with a consistent universal framework to guide their contributions to sustainable development locally and internationally. They are made up of 17 Goals and 169 targets that must be met before 2030, and they’re aimed at all actors on the planet: governments, companies, and civil society.

The 17 sustainable development goals are:

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms around the world.

Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and better nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promoting well-being for everyone of all ages.

Goal 4. Ensure inclusive, equitable, quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for everyone.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all girls and women.

Goal 6. Ensure water’s availability, its sustainable management, and sanitation for everyone.

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, modern energy for everyone.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive, sustainable economic growth; full, productive employment; and decent work for everyone.

Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructures, promote sustainable and inclusive industrialization, and foster innovation.

Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

Goal 12. Ensure methods of sustainable consumption and production.

Goal 13. Take urgent steps to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

Goal 15. Protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of land ecosystems; manage forests sustainably; fight against desertification; stop and reverse land deterioration; and curb the loss of biological diversity.

Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development; provide access to justice for everyone; and build effective, accountable, inclusive institutions at all levels.

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Alliance for Sustainable Development.

What is the Business Management Model?

The UN Global Compact has two complementary aims:

1.      Incorporating the Ten Principles into business activities around the world.

  1. Directing actions that support the United Nations’ broader goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The companies, unions, and organizations from civil society that join the initiative accept these Ten Principles, committing to implement them internally and, therefore, to respect human rights and labor standards, to preserve the environment, and to act with transparency in its activities and operations. The entities that adhere to the Global Compact must present their progress in implementing the Ten Principles in their activities through an annual Progress Report or Sustainability Report. These reports specify the actions and policies that companies are carrying out to fulfill this commitment.

Following the approval of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, the United Nations’ authority was granted to the Global Compact to raise awareness and help companies contribute to the new development agenda. Therefore, companies that adhere to the United Nations Global Compact must work jointly across both frameworks: the Ten Principles and the 17 SDGs.

The Global Compact provides measures for penalizing and even expelling companies and organizations that fail to comply with the principles of its Integrity Measures.

What is the Spanish Network (Red Española) of the UN Global Compact?

The Spanish Network of the Global Compact brings all the Spanish entities that adhere to the United Nations Global Compact together.

The Global Compact began its journey in Spain in 2002 under the leadership of the Rafael del Pino Foundation, with 200 entities joining initially. On November 15, 2004, the Spanish Association of the Global Compact (Asociación Española del Pacto Mundial, or ASEPAM) was created; its chair was Salvador García-Atance, and Joaquín Garralda was appointed Secretary General. In addition, the association’s Executive Committee was also created. This body was entitled to make decisions and consisted of representatives from different entities that were signatories to the Global Compact.

In 2008, the association was renamed the Spanish Network of the United Nations Global Compact; it was also recognized as an Entity of Public Utility, a status granted by the Ministry of the Interior. The State Council for Corporate Social Responsibility (Consejo Estatal de Responsabilidad Social Empresarial, or CERSE) elected the Spanish Network as a member of two of its working groups: CSR and Education, and Transparency, Communication, and Social Reporting Standards.

In 2018, at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Spanish Network was a facilitator of dialogue with Spain’s private business sector. This was in light of the voluntary examination that Spain underwent in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. That year, the network had 2335 member entities, 14% of which were big businesses, 75% were SMEs, and 11% were other types of entities (third sector, unions, business associations, and educational institutions).

The Spanish Network was the Global Compact’s second national association, following India, and it is the local network with the highest number of signatories. The management model and organizational structure of the Spanish network is one of the most advanced in the Global Compact. It also stands out for the type of activities and tools created to promote implementation of the Global Compact’s Ten Principles and the SDGs among the signatory entities. It has been recognized by the Global Compact as the local network with the most outstanding operation and for its commitment to the Progress Reports, the most innovative local network in developing tools for its signatories, and the most innovative local network.

What role did the Rafael del Pino Foundation play in the Spanish Network of the UN Global Compact?

The Rafael del Pino Foundation was the institution behind the implementation and dissemination of the UN Global Compact’s principles in Spain. Not surprisingly, the Foundation was in charge of organizing the meeting held in 2002, where the Global Compact’s Ten Principles were presented for the first time in the country.

That act was presided over by the Founder, and it took on exceptional significance due to the presence of the UN’s Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. A large group of Spanish business people presented Annan with a book that included 135 companies that adhered to the Global Compact’s principles; among those companies were the most influential leaders of the Spanish market. The event was attended by the signatories, representatives from relevant non-governmental organizations, and the main trade union centers.

The Rafael del Pino Foundation also later supported the creation of the Spanish Association of the Global Compact (ASEPAM), which has been renamed the Spanish Network of the Global Compact, of which Rafael del Pino y Moreno was honorary chair until his death. Upon his death in 2008, the directors of the Foundation occupied the network’s vice-chair until 2015.

The 10th Anniversary of the UN Global Compact in Spain was held on November 26, 2014, at the Rafael del Pino Foundation’s headquarters. The event’s attendees included: María del Pino, president of the Rafael del Pino Foundation; Mark Moody-Stuart, Chair of the UN Global Compact Foundation; Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact; and Ángel Pes, President of the Spanish Network of the Global Compact.

The Foundation’s perpetual commitment to implement the ten principles of the Global Compact was once again demonstrated with the support provided to for Spanish Network of the Global Compact for holding the meeting of its members and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon. Throughout 2014, the Foundation also actively participated in developing consultations in Spain and Latin America between the private sector and the United Nations; the aim was to contribute to the debate on post-2015 development strategies.

In 2015, the Rafael del Pino Foundation hosted the Spanish network of the Global Compact’s meetings; this brought the private sector’s perspective into the debate and negotiation on the Sustainable Development Goals, which were approved by the UN’s General Assembly. On November 25, 2015, these meetings culminated in an event held at the Foundation’s headquarters: “The private sector facing the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals: Keys and priorities for acting in Spain.” The event was brought to a close with a summary document on the meetings, surveys, working groups, and sessions on exchanging experiences held with companies, the administration, the third sector, and educational institutions.

In 2016, the Foundation focused its efforts on implementing the new Global Development Agenda in Spain, which stemmed from the agreements reached in 2015 (the 2030 Agenda). Through June 2016, the Foundation held the Vice-Chair of the Spanish Network of the Global Compact; its executive committee promoted work that supported the ten principles. That same year, having reached the maximum limit for being on the committee established by the Spanish Network’s statutes, the Foundation stepped down from its governing bodies.

Since 2018, the Foundation has focused on implementing the 2030 Agenda in Spain, joining the Technical Secretariat of the GoSDG project, which is led by the Spanish Network of the UN Global Compact and the Rafael del Pino Foundation. Other leading entities in this project are Accenture, Acción Contra el Hambre, Ashoka, Spanish Association of Foundations (Asociación Española de Fundaciones), Global Incubator, Atresmedia, the European Commission, Cotec, Deloitte, El Hueco, Endesa, Esade, Ferrovial, Repsol Foundation, Iberdrola, IE Business School, Impact Hub, Merco, Indra, Ineco, IS Global, itdUPM, The La Caixa Foundation  for Social Work (Obra Social Fundación), Prisa, Sic4Change, Ship2B, and Telefónica.

The Reconocimientos go!ODS (the Go!SDG Awards) highlight the role that business and social entities play in our country when it comes to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an innovative way. These awards recognize initiatives that are already underway and have proven results; the aim is for them to serve as inspiration for Spain’s entire private sector, fostering intersectoral collaboration and dialogue.

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