The report finds that 83% of CEOs feel that current levels of geopolitical instability limit the world’s ability to achieve the SDGs.
As many as 93% of CEOs are experiencing ten or more simultaneous challenges to their business.
At the same time, 98% of CEOs agree that sustainability is core to their role, and 51% believe they could play a critical role to achieve the SDGs with increased commitment and action.
The UN Global Compact and Accenture issued their 12th joint CEO study on sustainability. As the world approaches the halfway point towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CEOs are calling for a new roadmap to achieve the SDGs, asking governments to remove barriers and accelerate the green transition.
The study titled, ‘Reimagining the Agenda: Unlocking the Global Pathways to Resilience, Growth, and Sustainability for 2030,’ draws on insights from more than 2,600 CEOs across 18 industries in 128 countries, including the largest ever sampling of executives from the Global South.
The report finds that 83% of CEOs feel that current levels of geopolitical instability limit the world’s ability to achieve the SDGs. As many as 93% of CEOs are experiencing ten or more simultaneous challenges to their business, the top five of which are inflation and price volatility, talent scarcity, threats to public health, climate change, and trade regulation.
At the same time, 98% of CEOs agree that sustainability is core to their role, and 51% believe they could play a critical role to achieve the SDGs with increased commitment and action. Sixty-three percent are launching new products and services for sustainability, 55% are enhancing sustainability data collection across their value chains, and 49% are investing in renewable energy sources.
To build “true resilience,” the report finds, CEOs must embed protections across their business, including in:
- Strategy, by: adopting sustainable business models; establishing ambitious, science-based climate targets; adopting a nature-positive business strategy; and including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts in investment decisions;
- Workforce and organization, by: investing in the mental and physical health of employees; building and engaging a representative workforce; upskilling and/or reskilling workforce for the green transition; aligning leadership incentives to sustainability-based values and outcomes;
- Supply chain and data, by: advancing the collection of standardized, high-quality data; enhancing supply chain visibility and engagement; applying analytics-driven scenario planning in business processes; embedding sustainability criteria into research and development; and accelerating adoption of renewable energy to secure energy supply; and
- Ecosystem management, by engaging in strategic partnerships and advocating for a strong sustainability and resilience policy.
CEOs have a number of asks for policymakers to enable the private sector to achieve ambitious sustainability targets. They call on governments to align nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to a 1.5°C warming trajectory, cooperate to establish a global carbon price, and double investment in adaptation financing from 2019 levels by 2025.
CEOs also urge policymakers to align incentive mechanisms and regulatory systems to foster innovation and to standardize sustainability reporting frameworks for global accountability.
Other asks include:
- Realize a global biodiversity framework that sets ambitious targets to halt biodiversity loss;
- Enable the circular economy through establishing standards for transboundary movement;
- Invest in sustainable basic infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and energy systems;
- Incorporate worker and community impacts into policy decisions; and
- Provide education and financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Not meeting the SDGs is a real concern,” said Peter Lacy, Accenture. “It’s also an enormous opportunity for companies that reinvent their enterprises and harness sustainability as one of the key forces of change in the next decade – using technology and innovation to drive growth,” he underscored. [Publication: Reimagining the Agenda: Unlocking the Global Pathways to Resilience, Growth, and Sustainability for 2030] [Infographic] [UN Global Compact Landing Page] [Accenture’s Publication Page] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story about 2019 Publication]