On 24th September 2012, the United Nations Office for Partnerships hosted the Pearl Initiative's roundtable event on Corporate Accountability, held in parallel with the UN General Assembly meetings at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The high-level roundtable marked the two-year anniversary of the launch of the Pearl Initiative, the non-for-profit organisation that seeks to create a corporate culture of accountability and transparency in the Arab world. The organisation has achieved much in that time, through tangible initiatives on anti-corruption, corporate governance, ethics and integrity, integrated reporting, corporate disclosure and responsible business practices. The Founding Patron of the Pearl Initiative is His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al-Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of UAE and Ruler of Sharjah.
The roundtable brought together business leaders from public sector and private companies, state-owned enterprises and family firms, GCC Government Leaders, UN Leaders and Ambassadors as well as Heads of NGOs and Foundations to discuss the current state and the future of corporate accountability and transparency in the region. As Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE, has said, as Honorary Chairman of the Pearl Initiative "Public companies, privately held firms, government-owned corporations, not-for profit organisations, and governmental entities all are concerned with ethics." Welcoming the participants to the event were the Co-Founders of the Pearl Initiative, Badr Jafar, President of Crescent Petroleum, and Amir Dossal, Founder and Chairman of Global Partnerships Forum. They were followed by Roland Rich, Officer-in-Charge, UN Office for Partnerships; Adel Abdellatif, Chief, Regional Programme Division for the Regional Bureau for Arab States at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP); Basil Moftah, Thomson Reuters MD for Middle East, Africa and Russia; Joseph Rizzo, PWC's UN Global Relationship Partner; and Her Excellency Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) -- all who shared personal insight and experiences of imperatives, partnership opportunities and good corporate practices.
"It is very important that the Arab World plays a more active role in corporate accountability and corporate responsibility," said Badr Jafar, Co-founder of the Pearl Initiative and President of Crescent Petroleum. "The Pearl Initiative works with the private sector in countries that are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council to encourage businesses to attain greater awareness of corporate accountability and transparency towards their stakeholders and to embrace corporate responsibility in the fabric of their business models," he added.
"We work with the private sector to promote business ethics, through activities and programmes that are central to fostering a culture of corporate accountability, such as reporting, good governance, compliance and anti-corruption," said Imelda Dunlop, Executive Director of the Pearl Initiative. "This event, which brought together such a high calibre of participants, will hopefully be a catalyst for further dialogue between the public and private sectors on how to build upon the region's many business successes and make them even more competitive in today's globalised society," she noted.
In her address, Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of ADMAF, summed up perfectly the need for joint and urgent action when she said "Good character is invaluable. Credibility is priceless. It is the young who tomorrow will hold us accountable for our actions today. If we fail to lead by example, if we lose sight of the values we uphold, if we fail to preserve the morals that protect society, then we shall fail them."