Many businesses, small and large as well as corporations (generally regroup under the private sector label) work with the UN to build a better world through the UN Global Compact. These corporations and businesses, which are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices, follow 10 principles in the area of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption actions. By aligning business practices and strategies to these principles, the private sector has the potential to help ensure that markets, commerce, technology and finance advance in ways that could benefit economies and societies everywhere, thus contributing to a more sustainable and inclusive global economy.
The private sector can be an important player in community development. Apart from creating jobs, companies can also provide health care, clean drinking water and education facilities in countries where they operate. Given their wide outreach, companies can provide excellent advocacy and communication support to social, environmental and cultural causes.
The activities of small and mid-sized enterprises have cumulative effect on sustainability. Unlike corporations, they rely on NGOs and other entities to offer low-cost professional development. Also, small and mid-sized enterprises have a role to play in raising awareness and teaching about sustainable behaviour, such as fairtrade and eco-tourism.
The private sector can also contribute to mitigating environmental challenges by factoring environmental concerns into their business operations, as can be seen in the Green Economy Initiative. Today, many businesses fully acknowledge the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and consider contributing to society not only as an obligation but as part of their business strategy. UNESCO has been actively promoting UNESCO-Private Sector Partnerships by encouraging linkages and dialogue with private and corporate entities to realize common goals, including that of sustainable development.