Submitting an annual COP is at the heart of your company’s commitment to the UN Global Compact and provides valuable information to your stakeholders. Reporting to stakeholders in a transparent and public manner is fundamental for companies committed to sustainability. Your company’s annual Communication on Progress (COP) is a key component of your commitment to the UN Global Compact.
There are several powerful drivers of non-financial reporting that are pushing companies to act responsibly and report on their actions: Mainstream investors are considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) information in their strategies. Non-financial information is informing the decisions of consumers, local communities and civil society organizations that are all expecting greater transparency from business. Once only a voluntary activity, there is a trend towards mandatory non-financial reporting. The COP serves as a good starting point, and in some cases meets government requirements.
Benefits of sustainability reporting include integration of corporate sustainability into operations, improving your reputation, enhancing the commitment of your CEO, internal information sharing and strengthened relationships with your stakeholders and investors.
What are a COP and COE?
Communication on progress (COP) is a yearly report of the commitment of businesses to the ten principles.
The UN Global Compact requires participating companies to produce an annual COP that details their work to embed the Ten Principles into their strategies and operations, as well as efforts to support societal priorities. The COP is a visible expression of your commitment to sustainability and your stakeholders can view it on your company’s profile page. Companies that fail to report or to meet the criteria over time may be removed from the initiative.
Communication on engagement (COE) is a report submitted every second year for non-business on the ten principles.
The Communication on Engagement (COE) is a disclosure of specific activities that a non-business participant takes in support of the UN Global Compact and its result. From 31 October 2013, Non-business participants in the UN Global Compact are required to submit a COE every second year.
The COE is a public disclosure through which participants inform stakeholders about their efforts to support the principles of the Global Compact and about their engagement in the initiative.
As a public document, uploaded to the Global Compact website, the COE is an important demonstration of a non-business organization’s commitment to support the Global Compact and promote the implementation of the ten principles among businesses.
How to submit a COP
The overall format of a COP is flexible and COPs can be prepared in any language as long as they meet the minimum requirements below. Because our participants are all at different stages in their sustainability journey, COPs are categorized into three differentiation level based on the depth of their disclosure, We also collaborate with other frameworks – for example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) – to ensure that the standards are aligned and that meeting the requirements of one framework helps to comply with the others.
Format and Language:
- To make the COP/COE widely available to all stakeholders it should be fully integrated in the participant’s main medium of stakeholder communications, for example an annual report.
- In the event that a participant does not prepare formal reports, a COE can be created as a stand-alone document.
- COP/COEs should be written in the language(s) of the organization’s predominant stakeholder group. The Global Compact Office welcomes COP/COEs in all languages.
Three minimum requirements
The COP Policy sets out key information including the minimum requirements for each COP:
- A statement by the chief executive expressing continued support for the UN Global Compact and renewing the participant’s ongoing commitment to the initiative.
- A description of practical actions the company has taken or plans to take to implement the Ten Principles in each of the four areas (human rights, labour, environment, anti-corruption).
- A measurement of outcomes.
The COE Policy sets out key information including the minimum requirements for each COE:
- A statement by the chief executive or equivalent expressing continued support for the UN Global Compact and renewing the participant’s ongoing commitment to the initiative.
- A description of the practical actions that the organization has taken to support the UN Global Compact principles and to engage with the initiative. See suggested activities to report.
- Measurement of outcomes.
Based on a company’s self-assessment, each COP falls into one of the following differentiation levels:
- GC Advanced: COPs that qualify as GC Active and, in addition, cover the company’s implementation of advanced criteria and best practices
>>> View all GC Advanced COPs »
- GC Active: COPs that meet the minimum requirements
>>> View all GC Active COPs »
- GC Learner: COPs that do not meet one or more of the minimum requirements
>>> View all GC Learner COPs »
All COE are reported on the same level.
A COP must be submitted at the latest 12 months from the date of joining and every 12 months thereafter.
Business participants are required to submit to the Global Compact COP database an electronic version of their COP (preferably a PDF file) and, if available, a link (URL) to the web page that contains their COP. Additionally, participants must complete a brief questionnaire on the content of their COP. More information here.
A COE must be submitted at the latest 24 months from the date of joining and every second year thereafter. More information here.
Submit your COP/COE on your dashboard.
Modification of deadlines
A non-business participant will be designated as “non-communicating” on the Global Compact website if it fails to submit a COP/COE by the required deadline.
Business participants can adjust their COP submission deadlines to their reporting cycles by submitting an adjustment request to the Global Compact website, indicating the timing of the participant’s reporting cycle. Such a request will result in a one-time deadline deferral of up to 11 months.
In case of a foreseeable delay in COP submission, business participants may request a grace period of 90 days from the COP deadline by submitting a grace request on the UN Global Compact webiste, providing a reasonable explanation for the delay and stating the date by which the COP will be submitted. Any grace period granted will reset the COP deadline (e.g., if the original COP deadline is 1 January 2014 and the race period ends 1 April 2014, then the next COP deadline will be 1 April 2015).
Expulsion from the Global Compact
- If a non-communicating participant fails to submit a COP that meets all COP requirements within a year of becoming non-communicating, it will be expelled from the Global Compact and the name of expelled participants will be made public on the Global Compact website.
- All organizations that have been expelled must reapply to join the initiative.