The United Nations Global Compact and the Encyclical Laudato Si: A Common Vision

Author: Greenleaf Publishing

Later this month, Greenleaf will be launching a special edition of The Journal of Corporate Citizenship exploring the impact of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si (LS) in guiding a new, unified approach to corporate responsibility.

Over recent decades, escalating social and environmental concerns have prompted increasingly urgent calls for corporations to confirm their commitment to go beyond self-interest and to actively support solutions to our global challenges. This special issue of The Journal of Corporate Citizenship examines how the UNGC and the LS are shaping corporate attitudes and influencing the behaviour of some of the world’s leading multinationals in this direction. 

Oliver Williams Headshot Lo Res

The UNGC and LS are two independent documents seeking solutions to shared challenges: climate change, ecological destruction, economic instability and the plight of the world’s poor. Both documents are a call to expand the social expectations on business. Prompted by multinational businesses’ control over huge aggregates of money, management skills and power, scholars and activists are increasingly emphasising the moral obligations of these corporations to make positive contributions to the ecological health of the planet and the alleviation of poverty. This major change in the social contract with business, demands that corporations reimagine their fundamental purpose, moving beyond the myopic and outdated view that their primary function is to deliver increasing financial returns for shareholders.

Guest-edited by the Reverend Oliver Williams, CSC, director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Religious Values at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, this special issue of The Journal of Corporate Citizenship brings together contributions from researchers examining the real-world impact of the UNGC and the LS, and practitioners seeking to advance the vision of the two documents. Taken as a whole, these contributions point to the massive energy being deployed by individuals and organisations around the world to achieve the crucial and ambitious targets proposed by both the United Nations and Pope Francis.

In his introduction to the special issue, Williams comments:

“How is it that the secular United Nations and the religious Vatican have a common vision for business? At its root, this common vision for business flows from a common vision for society … The Sustainable Development Goals and Laudato Si are attempts to persuade the wider community that the times demand more of business, that social expectations should be broadened and the social license to operate should be more demanding.”

Contributors to the special issue include Archbishop Auza, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; British business expert Mark Moody-Stuart; and Jeffrey Ball, writer and scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. Authors also include James Walsh, The Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan and former president of the Academy of Management; and Martijn Cremers, Bernard J. Hank Professor of Finance at the University of Notre Dame. Together, the nine papers offer a comprehensive and inspiring vision as we reimagine the potential of business to contribute to the creation of a better world for all.

The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Issue 64: The United Nations Global Compact and the Encyclical Laudato Si will be published by Greenleaf Publishing at the end of December. To order a copy of the journal, or to arrange a regular subscription, please email info@greenleaf-publishing.com. Details of subscription pricing is available at www.greenleaf-publishing.com/journalsubs.