Businesses with innovative models that enhance commercial success as well as contribute to sustainable development have been invited by the United Nations to participate in the World Business and Development Awards (WBDA), which launched its nominations on Thursday.
Organizations engaged in practices that are delivering commercially-viable solutions and helping to improve social, economic and environmental conditions are eligible to apply regardless of size or location.
According to a news release issued by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), a co-organizer of the awards, this year's prizes will be given to companies with inclusive business models that expand access for low-income people to goods and services, or improve their livelihoods by engaging them in value chains as direct employees, suppliers or distributors, while also generating sales and profit growth.
"Past award winners have shown how companies can help boost sustainable growth and development," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. "They can be a tremendous source of innovative and sustainable solutions which help transform people's lives for the better."
An international judging panel made up of representatives of the organizing partners as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities, business entities, and international institutions will determine this year's winners.
The award ceremony will be held on June 19, during the UN Sustainable Development Conference (Rio+20). In honour of the conference's host country, Brazil, there will be a special category designated for Brazil-based companies.
The awards seek to demonstrate how companies can, through their core business activities, help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - eight internationally agreed targets to reduce poverty and environmental degradation and improve education, health conditions and gender equality by 2015.
"As progress towards the Millennium Development Goals comes under threat in the current economic climate, the awards will highlight the critical role of the private sector in stimulating sustainable economic growth and development," said Secretary General for the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Jean-Guy Carrier.
Now in its tenth year, the WBDAs are organized by the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF), the ICC and UNDP. This year's partners include the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the UN Global Compact.