UNGC-Accenture Study Finds CEOs Ready to Embrace Sustainability

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) critically depends on the active engagement of business and industry and public-private partnerships. Private sector companies must embed sustainability into their business practices to help achieve the SDGs. Many of the top tier companies are already recognizing the urgent need to participate in this process to support a responsible and sustainable global economy as well as retain their own competitiveness.

The UN Global Compact and Accenture recently conducted a study of more than 1,000 CEOs, who are a part of the UN Global Impact, to assess their commitment to contribute to the accomplishment of the SDGs. The study titled The United Nations Global Compact-Accenture Strategy CEO Study 2016, Agenda 2030: A Window of Opportunity found that business leaders are increasingly accepting a mandate to lead from the front in solving global challenges.

The study, launched at the 2016 UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York, found that 87 percent of CEOs believe the SDGs represent an essential opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainability, and 49 percent recognize businesses will be the most important player in their delivery. Lise Kingo, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, said that the organization aims to unleash the full potential of the private sector to reshape the global economy and deliver a more sustainable world by 2030.

Ninety-five percent of CEOs surveyed feel a personal responsibility to ensure their company has a core purpose and role in society, and 80 percent believe that demonstrating a commitment to societal purpose is a differentiator in their industry. Peter Lacy, managing director, Accenture Strategy, said that CEOs around the world acknowledge digital technologies will play a key part in the global transformation, redefining competitiveness in many industries.

Although CEOs emphasize the need to overcome significant challenges, the study finds business leaders making progress in embedding sustainability across their business. More than two-thirds of the CEOs surveyed said that sustainability issues are already part of board-level discussions, and 64 percent said these issues play a central role in their strategic planning and business development.

Nearly sixty percent of the CEOs reported that their company can accurately quantify the business value of their sustainability initiatives, up from 38 percent in 2013. Looking beyond their own companies, the CEOs said progress is being replicated across their industries, and 89 percent said commitment to sustainability is translating into a real impact on their industry.

Among CEOs of the world’s largest companies, those with annual revenues in excess of US$1 billion, commitment and action is even more pronounced with 76 percent of them already engaging investors on the value of sustainability to their business. As CEOs prioritize critical actions to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, 86 percent of them said standardized metrics are needed so companies can measure and track their impact on global goals.

Source: Accenture