The latest United Nations Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability provides perspectives and a resolute call to action from a record 2,600+ CEOs across 128 countries and 18 industries.
CEOs say they see integrated sustainability as the foundation to protect against instability. Strategies and business models with sustainability at the core are not only a climate imperative, but also the foundation of security, growth, and resilience.
With clear urgency, this report explores the myriad of challenges business leaders face today, and the opportunity surrounding sustainability as the path forward.
CEOs report the dramatic rise in intersecting global challenges is forcing them to navigate new levels of uncertainty.
While CEOs remain committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they’re sounding the alarm that more action is needed to rescue the goals.
CEOs are building resilience by embedding sustainability across their business, strengthening leadership and increasing ecosystem collaboration.
To remove barriers on taking action, CEOs are calling for a new roadmap to achieve the SDGs and asking government to accelerate the green transition.
“Not meeting the SDGs is a real concern. 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.”
— PETER LACY, Global Sustainability Services Lead and Chief Responsibility Officer – Accenture
Global sustainability agenda is off track
CEOs are dealing with a slate of global challenges, many of which are not traditionally business related.
Geopolitical instability and the climate crisis are compounding the effects of these global challenges.
Biodiversity protection remains low on the private sector agenda, yet consequences could be drastic.
CEOs feel this may risk efforts to achieve the SDGs.
83% of CEOs feel that current levels of geopolitical instability limit the world’s ability to achieve the SDGs.
Sustainability is the core of resilience
The business case for sustainability is clear – and CEOs are ready to act. They are embracing sustainability as the foundation to build resilience and identify new opportunities for growth.
CEOs are reimagining their supply chain, looking to increase visibility and decarbonize, to build resilience in the face of global uncertainty.
CEOs recognize their workforce as a crucial lever of resilience. They are looking to attract diverse talent while upskilling and reskilling their workforce to support the just transition.
As CEOs take on more responsibility and lead the charge for a sustainability future, they look to stakeholders such as governments to assist them on this journey.
Resilience ingredients for CEOs
Companies that embrace sustainability at their core can chart the course for a more resilient, competitive future. This includes pursuing 15 key actions highlighted, driven by technology, with sustainability at heart.
Invest in the mental and physical health of employees
Build and engage a representative workforce
Upskill and/or reskill your workforce for the green transition
Align leadership incentives to sustainability—based on values and outcomes
Advance the collection of standardized, high-quality data
Enhance supply chain visibility and engagement
Apply analytics-driven scenario planning in business processes
Embed sustainability criteria into Research & Development
Accelerate adoption of renewable energy to secure your energy supply
Engage in strategic partnerships
Advocate for strong sustainability and resilience policy
CEOs' asks of policymakers
To maximize impact by 2030, businesses are calling on governments to provide clear direction, and support and enable the private sector to achieve ambitious sustainability targets. This includes 10 critical policy actions:
Align NDCs at 1.5°c
Cooperate on carbon pricing
Realize a biodiversity framework
Action on adaptation financing
Align regulatory systems to foster innovation
Standardize ESG reporting frameworks
Enable the circular economy
Invest in sustainable basic infrastructure
Support policy for a just transition
Provide education and financing for SMEs
Meet the team
Global Sustainability Services Lead & Chief Responsibility Officer