In-depth interviews with CEOs across regions and industry sectors highlight specific mindsets and approaches that business leaders see as critical to success in a new era of global development. Accelerating progress and unlocking the potential of the private sector will depend on new approaches and capabilities that can shape supply, demand and the rules of the game, harnessing the innovation of business to address global challenges.
CEOs see the rapid development and adoption of digital technologies as a game changer for sustainable business, enabling new approaches and business models such as the Circular Economy, founded on greater efficiency, transparency and traceability. These transformative technologies are enabling companies to improve visibility throughout their supply chains and into the communities in which they operate, and fundamentally rethink their business models to decouple growth from environmental and resource degradation.
Business leaders recognize the importance of reaching out "beyond the firm" to engage ecosystems of consumers, investors, governments and other partners in developing new solutions to global challenges.
Leading companies are already showing a willingness to broaden their horizons and their definitions of success: Eighty-six percent believe that transformative action will be underpinned by a new approach to identifying common metrics that allow companies to measure, track and communicate impact on the SDGs. This new approach will enable business to move beyond “do no harm” approaches to sustainability and adopt a new focus on value creation for society with real impact on global challenges.
The breadth of the challenge to accelerate progress on sustainability is demonstrated in CEOs’ views on what will be required to achieve the SDGs. Business leaders identify action across investors and financial markets; greater cross-sector collaboration, partnerships and funding for sustainable development; and international agreements and national action plans to deliver global goals. Clearly, business leaders see multiple actors combining in new way to deliver new solutions, with a critical role for organizations such as the UN Global Compact to convene a unified and coherent response.