A worldwide emergency

Sandra Ojiambo

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Sanda Ojiambo (MA ’98), was deeply aware of global inequalities, an understanding that came into even sharper focus when she went away to college in North America, including earning her master’s degree at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
“Because of my life experiences, I always knew that I wanted to work in a space where I could interrogate why there are haves and have-nots in the world,” Ojiambo says.
Last June, she got the opportunity to do this on a sweeping scale when she became the CEO and executive director of the United Nation’s Global Compact. Founded in 2000 by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Global Compact is the world’s largest voluntary corporate sustainability initiative, which puts forth 10 principles for how businesses should be run to prioritize human rights, labor, fighting corruption, and the environment. The Global Compact has over 12,000 business members and 3,000 non-business stakeholders across 160 countries.
“I went to the Humphrey School because I always felt that the biggest change happens when you’re able to make an impact on the policy level and overall framework in which development issues play out,” says Ojiambo. “Because I had a strong commitment to working in the field of development, it was a clear match for me, for what I wanted to do.”
In this interview with Minnesota Alumni magazine, Ojiambo talks about Global Compact’s commitment to the environment and how the UN enlists companies to commit to building a better world.