Story | 09/12/2016 08:47:00

Sustainability leaders unite!

UPM is the first forest industry company invited to join the United Nations' Global Compact LEAD, a platform dedicated to advancing sustainability leadership through innovation and action.


Lise Kingo

Global Compact LEAD is a unique United Nations leadership platform designed for companies with leading sustainability standards.

“Participating in LEAD offers UPM an excellent opportunity to show its sustainability leadership on a global stage. Companies in LEAD can uniquely demonstrate how good business practices can advance global Sustainability Development Goals,” says Lise Kingo, Executive Director of Global Compact.

When inviting new companies to join LEAD, the UN Global Compact scans a variety of global and local sustainability rankings and indices, including the Global Compact 100 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Kingo sees membership as a relevant tool for publicly listed companies like UPM. “LEAD is uniquely positioned to foster better communication and collaboration with different types of investors. This is something we are going to prioritise even more in the years to come,” says Kingo.

“Finally, I also believe it is a big advantage for the participating companies that LEAD is an integral part of the UN Global Compact and thus the driving force in the creation of a large global movement.”

Top 50 sustainability leaders


Pirkko Harrela

Pirkko Harrela, Executive Vice President, Stakeholder Relations, UPM, sees the invitation as recognition of UPM’s long-term commitment to sustainability work. “For us, joining LEAD is a great opportunity to stay abreast of developments within the industry and to generate and implement advanced corporate sustainability practices together with other sustainability leaders and committed stakeholders,” she says.

UPM is the first forest industry company and the very first Finnish company to receive an invitation to join.

There are currently 50 sustainably advanced companies across geographical regions and industry sectors that participate in LEAD. The total number of member companies in the UN Global Compact is approximately 8,500.

Designing for the future

LEAD’s work is about developing tools for companies to apply in integrating sustainability into all aspects of their work. In 2016, the focus of Global Compact and LEAD is on integrating global goals and local business.

“The Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) are a useful source of inspiration and a tremendous opportunity for businesses to innovate, invest and collaborate to create a more sustainable future for all of us,” notes Ole Lund Hansen, Chief, Business of Tomorrow, at the UN Global Compact.


Ole Lund Hansen

Another important emphasis is on designing future business models, including those that are emerging from the digital revolution. For example, LEAD has a new Young Innovators Programme that will engage young professionals from LEAD companies.

“The target is to understand and benefit the potential of organisations emerging from Silicon Valley and elsewhere. The programme gives the industries a chance to explore and transform these developments into new sustainable business models and opportunities,” continues Hansen.

Currently, with UPM the only forest industry company in LEAD, Hansen expects an important contribution, especially in the field of bioeconomy and all 11 UN goals that are considered to be important targets for UPM.

“We hope that UPM will benefit from the collaboration and find inspiration when working together with other industry leaders, exploring the potential for radical new and more sustainable business models within the sector,” Hansen concludes.


Vesa Puoskari