Are you already reporting in line with the United Nations Global Compact or starting to think about becoming a UNGC Participant?
No matter the case, you should know that the UNGC Communication on Progress process is changing from 2023 onwards and undergoing a complete revamp.
In this article, we cover the most common questions organisations have concerning the 2023 UNGC CoP update.
About the UNGC
With over 15.000 signatories spread across 160 countries, the UNGC represents the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative.
It brings together organisations of all sizes and sectors, that share the common goal of fostering sustainable development.
By joining the initiative, companies commit to responsible business practices focusing on:
- Human Rights;
The UNGC Communication on Progress is a reporting requirement for UNGC participating companies.
It aims to communicate organisations' progress in embedding and implementing the Ten Principles of the UNGC and the UN SDGs into their strategy and operations.
Through this report, signatories' organisations keep themselves accountable to stakeholders.
The new CoP Process
The new Communication on Progress will consist of two main sections:
- A statement of continued support signed by the CEO of the company;
- An online CoP Questionnaire.
Organisations will have to communicate their efforts within a standardised ‘Universal Submission Period’ running between the 1st of February and the 31st of May of each year.
Moreover, the ‘non-communication period’ will be reduced from 12 months to 6 months.
This means that if a company fails to submit its CoP Questionnaire by the 31st of May, it will enter a 6-month period (1st of June to 30th of November) during which is publicly labelled as ‘Non-Communicating’ on the UNGC website.
If within this period, the organisation still does not submit its CoP Questionnaire, it will be delisted as a UNGC participant from the 1st of December of the same year.
The new CoP Questionnaire
The online multiple-choice CoP Questionnaire will contain an extensive set of questions that measure and assess a company’s integration and progress on related topics to the Ten Principles and the SDGs.
Consequently, the old narrative report-based methodology will no longer be valid from 2023 onwards.
The full CoP questionnaire is already available for review. We advise taking a look here to prepare and start the data-gathering process.
The standardised questionnaire is broken into 5 main sections being:
- Human Rights;
The Human Rights section allows companies to select their relevant material topics for disclosure. Additionally, the Environment section contains questions sector-specific questions.
In general, questions relate to:
- Reporting data;
- Performance indicators.
Organisations will be allowed to provide additional explanations to their answers. Moreover, a few questions will allow the attachment of additional documents (i.e. sustainability report or code of conduct).
Any reporting or performance data that is provided in the questionnaire is expected to be from the company’s most recent data collection period. Ideally, within the past 12 months before the CoP questionnaire Universal Submission Deadline.
Why are these changes happening?
The new CoP methodology aims to provide:
- An updated and more representative assessment of a company’s sustainability progress in line with the UNGC and the Agenda 2030;
- A more practical and tangible means to track, aggregate, and compare data related to the sustainability progress of organisations;
- A framework to better integrate financial and non-financial sustainability reporting while improving the quality of the disclosed information.
In fact, the previous methodology was last reviewed in 2010 and was not reflecting adequately the reporting landscape anymore.
How long will the new CoP Questionnaire take to complete?An accurate estimation of the time needed to complete the CoP Questionnaire is difficult due to elements such as:
- Company size;
- Level of sustainability maturity;
- Resources available to complete the questionnaire;
- Access to needed information, data, policies, and processes.
Nevertheless, the UNGC claims that it should take around:
- 2 hours for a small entity operating at a local level;
- 2 days for a large multinational company.
What does this mean for an already active and communicating participant/signatory?
Companies that are already communicating their progress will have their current status (either ‘active’ or ‘non-communicating’) as of 31st December 2022 carried over into 2023.
Once in 2023, all companies will automatically be subject to the Universal Submission Period running between the 1st of February and the 31st of May.
My company still has an upcoming CoP deadline in 2022, what should I do?
Organisations that have a 2022 due date for the CoP submission, are requested to still produce and submit the CoP report according to the old report-based methodology.
No grace periods will be recognised past the 31st of December 2022. This means that those signatories that fail to submit before the 2022 deadline will be labelled as 'non-communicating' entities. This status will be removed with the submission of the new CoP Questionnaire.
How can you prepare for the new CoP Questionnaire?
Finally, our recommendations to properly prepare for the new CoP Questionnaire are the following:
- Take the time to read through the full questionnaire beforehand;
- Start identifying and gathering the needed documentation and data;
- Use the previously submitted CoP report as a guiding source for the new questionnaire.