21 Sep 2015
The UN Global Compact – RICS Responsible Business Best Practice Toolkit for the Land, Construction & Real Estate Sector

The land, construction, and real estate sector represents about 70 percent of global wealth. The global construction industry alone is one of the largest sectors in the world and its contribution to global GDP makes up around one-tenth of the total with a share of overall employment of almost seven percent. This sector has the opportunity to make a substantial impact to global sustainability if it takes a considered approach to land development, resource use and waste generation, during both the construction and occupational phases.

To support this end, the UN Global Compact and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) partnered to develop a toolkit for ‘Responsible Business Best Practice in the Land, Construction & Real Estate Sector’ based around the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. It followed a global consultation and was recently launched in New York at GC+15 which marked the Global Compact’s 15th anniversary and retirement of Executive Director, Georg Kell.

This collaboration is among the UN Global Compact’s first initiatives to address corporate sustainability in a specific sector following the recent launch of its Post-2015 Business Engagement Architecture (PDF).

The resource: ‘Advancing Responsible Business Practices in Land, Construction, Real Estate Use and Investment’ calls on all companies to think holistically about the impact of their daily business activities and their strategic investment decision-making when commissioning, planning, designing, constructing and operating buildings.

The development of the toolkit was guided by a global Steering Group comprising of UN Global Compact participants from the areas of real estate, development, finance, investment, construction, research and training, as well as global law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, RICS’ industry-academia partnership university. Cities Programme Director, Prof. Ralph Horne was part of the committee providing advice to the development of the guide.

We strongly encourage cities and other stakeholders to promote the use of the toolkit.

Toolkit objectives

  • To promote awareness raising, learning, and dialogue amongst the sector’s stakeholders – including occupiers and real estate users;
  • To facilitate closer collaboration across the sector and share good practice from companies that are already on their corporate sustainability journey; and
  • To mobilise sector participants, real estate users, professionals and the wider stakeholder community to scale up their existing initiatives and become the true drivers of corporate sustainability within the sector and beyond.

The 3 phases of the toolkit

The toolkit provides specific actions related to each aspect of the phases to assist cities in implementing change.

  • Development phase:
  1. Land governance
  2. Transparency and anti-corruption
  3. Respecting workers’ rights
  4. Environmental stewardship
  5. Quality of planning, design and construction
  • Real Estate phase
  1. Transparency and disclosure
  2. Environmental stewardship
  3. Treatment of tenants and communities
  4. Health, safety and well-being of building occupants
  5. Decent work and human rights within the value chain
  • Recovery phase
  1. Strategic site-use re-evaluation
  2. Refurbishment and retrofitting
  3. Waste management, resource conservation and recycling during demolition
  4. Brownfield regeneration
  5. Land recovery and rehabilitation of site

Tools available to assist with action implementation:

Companies wishing to adopt the practices listed above are encouraged to consult the full-length version of the toolkit as it provides access to:

  1. Detailed practical actions

All 15 action items are graded as either ‘should’ or ‘could’ actions. ‘Should’ actions are considered necessary for all companies to meet their social and environmental responsibilities and to advance the Ten Principles of the Global Compact. Alternatively, ‘Could’ actions may be considered as pioneering and aspirational, but have the potential to become mainstream over time.

  1. Sectoral good practice examples and UN resources tool boxes

All of the action items and their sub-actions are supported by real-life good practice examples, as well as a tool box of useful UN resources for further reading.

  1. A Self-Assessment Checklist

A tool to help companies position themselves and better align their organisation and their business activities to the Global Compact’s Ten Principles.

For more information:

Executive summary: Advancing Responsible Business Practices in Land, Construction, Real Estate Use and Investment

Full document: Advancing Responsible Business Practices in Land, Construction, Real Estate Use and Investment

Document: UN Global Compact Library

 Post Author: Cassandra Cohen