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A Better Internet with UN Global Compact


4 min read

Every year during Birthday Week, we talk about what we mean by our mission to help build a better Internet. We release support for new standards and products that help the global Internet community and give things like unmitigated DDoS Protection away for free. We also think about our role as an active participant in the global community of individuals, companies and governments that make the Internet what it is.

In 2020, we decided to formalize our commitment to being an active partner in the global community by joining the UN Global Compact (UNGC) as a signatory. We share the view that achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals set out in the UN Global Compact are the blueprint for a better and more sustainable future. Today, we are proud to release our first Communication on Progress, which describes how we are integrating UNGC principles across our company and as part of helping build a better Internet.

Shared values, economy, and Internet

In 1999, then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan shared a sober message with business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He argued that basic protections like human rights, environmental sustainability, and fair labor practices are not just good for the world or good for business, they are fundamental to the long-term stability of a free and open global market.

Mr. Annan also warned that failure to ensure these basic protections could have dire political and economic consequences. Specifically, if governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations could not translate the same shared values underlying national markets to the newly-created global market, then the global economy would remain fragile and vulnerable. He described how people feeling victimized would be subject to exploitation, including from "all the 'isms' of our post-cold-war world: protectionism; populism; nationalism; ethnic chauvinism; fanaticism; and terrorism," which prey on misery and insecurity.

More than twenty years later, it's difficult to find issue with Mr. Annan's message. In fact, we think that human rights, environmental sustainability, fair labor practices, and anti-corruption are not only fundamental to the global economy, but to building a better Internet as well.

A Global Compact

The UN Global Compact (UNGC) is the world's largest sustainability initiative with over 14,000 members in 162 countries. The UNGC's mission is to mobilize companies to align their operations and strategies with UN principles and values.

Participants are required to make three commitments: operating responsibly by adhering to the UN Ten Principles, taking strategic action to help advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and providing annual public reporting on implementation.

The Ten Principles

The UNGC's first requirement is that companies operate consistent with fundamental responsibilities embodied in the UN Ten Principles, which include human rights, environmental sustainability, labor protections, and anti-corruption. The principles themselves are derived from a series of related UN treaties like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ILO Fundamental Principles on the Rights at Work, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Sustainable Development Goals

The UNGC's second requirement is for participants to help advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are an urgent call to action for global development that was adopted by all 193 UN member states in 2015. It builds off a number of previous UN development initiatives, including the Earth Summit in 1992, the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Each of the 17 SDGs includes a broad goal combined with specific targets and indicators, as well as progress reports and other metrics.

Cloudflare is committed to helping advance all the 17 UN SDGs. However, like many companies, we've focused our efforts and our COP reporting on the SDGs that are most relevant to our business.

SDG 5 is focused on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. This goal is particularly relevant right now, given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on women in the workforce. We have long believed in the importance of encouraging a diverse workforce, and have benefited from partnerships with returnship programs that provide opportunities to mothers or people who have taken a career break to care for a loved one. This year, we’ve also taken steps to begin reporting on pay equity and have signed multiple diversity charters like the EU Charter and UK Tech Talent Charter. In conjunction with International Women's Day, Cloudflare also hosted a full month of events and programs designed to foster community and support the growth and advancement of those who identify as women.

By offering free services to protect organizations around the world that empower women from denial for service attacks (DDoS) and other online threats, Cloudflare’s Project Galileo also helps advance the goal of gender equality. Through Project Galileo, we’ve been proud to work with organizations like the Women in Media Initiative Somalia (WIMISOM), which works to empower female journalists in Somalia, as well as serving at the forefront of campaigns to end violence against women, girls, and children.

SDG 13 is focused on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Although Cloudflare has always had efficiency at our core, we are also committed to reducing our environmental impact and making the Internet as a whole more environmentally friendly. To reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, Cloudflare has committed to power its network by 100 percent renewable energy, which we achieved in 2020. We are also committed to removing or mitigating all of our historic greenhouse gas emissions associated with powering our network by 2025.

Earlier this year, Cloudflare also released new products to help our customers reach their own climate and emissions goals. For example, Cloudflare is directing computing workload to locations on its edge network that result in better climate outcomes, providing customers with real-time information on their individual emissions footprints, and providing developers with the option to build webpages on infrastructure powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

Moving Forward

As part of announcing what would ultimately become the UNGC, Secretary General Annan noted that the rise of transnational corporations had created unprecedented opportunities for private entities to move humanity forward. As Cloudflare celebrates another Birthday Week, we're proud to share all the ways we are helping move toward a better Internet. And as always, we're just getting started.

We protect entire corporate networks, help customers build Internet-scale applications efficiently, accelerate any website or Internet application, ward off DDoS attacks, keep hackers at bay, and can help you on your journey to Zero Trust.

Visit from any device to get started with our free app that makes your Internet faster and safer.

To learn more about our mission to help build a better Internet, start here. If you're looking for a new career direction, check out our open positions.
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