by Kylie Porter
On 21 November 2019, a statement on Supporting an Open Australian Civic Space for Stakeholders was released by Global Compact Network Australia. Aligning with the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles that span human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption, the statement highlights the importance of “an open civic space” in a free and democratic society.
An open civic space is one of the many benefits of living in a free and democratic society. An open civic space is an environment in which people can organise, participate and communicate with each other freely. An open civic space, where all parties are respecting the human rights of others, is not only good for a democratic society, it is good for business. It provides an “early warning system” for business to better understand the concerns that various stakeholders may have about their operations, allowing them to manage risks in full consultation with the people most likely to be affected. It also provides the space for multi-stakeholder dialogue and the ability to forge partnerships for more sustainable solutions to challenges across environmental, social and governance issues.
We do not condone violent protests and also understand the pressures that business, large and small, may feel when they are the subject of a campaign. However, the voices of campaigners are one of many critical voices that need to be heard as we transition and decarbonise our economies by 2050. Deep disruption will naturally emerge as we make these structural shifts. An open civic space that considers a diversity of views and voices is critical to navigate a prosperous and inclusive future for all stakeholders.
The Global Compact Network Australia works alongside diverse groups, including business, to support dialogue that enhances responsible business practices around human rights, labour rights, environment and anti-corruption. The transition to decarbonisation for businesses, communities and government cannot take place without respectful discussions. We know that to bring these groups together the civic space must be safeguarded and as a trusted partner to government, business, academic institutions, and civil society we provide a forum where we can discuss the solutions that will enable us to reach more equitable outcomes for all.
For more information, please visit the Global Compact Network Australia website.