Specifically, the CEOs are sending a clear and unequivocal call to their sectors and peers to step up action and change market systems to drive a decade of delivery on the Global Goals.

The study refers to 2016 actions when CEOs commented that the Global Goals would set a clear framework for their companies to lead on the sustainable development agenda.

Yet, 2019 result presents that CEOs believe that business execution is not measuring up to either the size of the challenge of the Global Goals or their previous level of ambition.


In 2016

  • 49% said business would be the most important actor in the delivery of the Global Goals
  • 78% saw opportunities to contribute to the Global Goals through their core business
  • 90% said they were personally committed to ensuring that their companies lead on the sustainable development agenda

In 2019

  • 48% are implementing sustainability into their operations according to the UN Global Compact Progress Report
  • Only 21% feel business is currently playing a critical role in contributing to the Global Goals
  • 71% of CEOs believe that — with increased commitment and action — business can play a critical role in contributing to the Global Goals

Thus, the report presents three steps on how to achieve the Global Goals:

#Call to Action 1: Raising ‘threshold’ ambition and systems transformation

CEOs call business leaders to accelerate action not only for their own firms but, just as critically, drive disruption of market systems.

Leaders say that all businesses must raise ambition through ‘threshold’ actions aligned with the 17 Global Goals.

CEOs are further stepping up to be a competitive force in accelerating market drivers — including via adopting new technologies and engaging customers and consumers in sustainable business models — for their broader sectors: 54% of CEOs say environmental degradation is increasing their sustainability efforts.

#Call to Action 2: Collaborate to shape realistic, science-based solutions

This year CEOs highlight the importance of collaboration, as the key to driving broad-scale action.

  • Shaping realistic, collective solutions: key actors must come together in honest dialogue on the challenges and trade-offs, particularly business and government, to create the right market conditions.
  • Levelling the playing field: in some cases, even where the right policy framework is not forthcoming, industry leaders need to step up non-competitively in coordination and exchange.
  • Driving localized action and results: businesses have to elevate the role of effective, local partnership moving seamlessly between global and local. Across our conversations, CEOs emphasize the role of the United Nations and UN Global Compact in facilitating collaboration and concrete action at scale, by: bringing actors together in dialogue on solutions; shaping and advocating consistent standards; and building bridges between business, national and local governments.

#Call to Action 3: Defining responsible leadership for 2030

This year CEOs seem to have changes their perspective, looking beyond short-term profits and embrace their role as change agents to drive forward the Global Goals.

71% of CEOs believe that — with increased commitment and action — business can play a critical role in contributing to the Global Goals.

Moreover, to achieve the transformation needed for a sustainable environment, CEOs informed of nine emerging qualities of responsible leaders for 2030:

  1. Pioneer systems change: Business leaders are increasingly taking commercial risks, including accepting the less economical options in the short-term to propel the economics of sustainability forward through scale.
  2. Drive market demand for sustainability: Consumers may not be willing to pay for the better solution but industry leaders must proactively drive sustainable behaviors and demand.
  3. Build cultures of responsibility and sustainability: Leaders should set expectations and embed purpose-driven mindsets through their strategy, organization and people.
  4. Know the issues and engage in science-based leadership: Business leaders will increasingly need to “get the issues” and engage with broader stakeholders in shaping and driving adoption of science-based solutions.
  5. Extend responsibility to ecosystems: CEOs support the idea of  extending responsibility to suppliers and ecosystems beyond their direct control, and lift up their industries through sharing of best practice.
  6. Collaborate non-competitively: To achieve the success needed, leaders will need to engage in non-competitive partnership and strategic alliances as they have not in the past.
  7. Take sustainability personally.
  8. Hold organizations to account and engage investors: For global CEOs, responsible leadership means personally holding their organizations financially accountable for sustainability, and meaningfully engaging investors on its value to business.
  9. Lead change with authenticity.

Concluding, to explore more on "UN Global Compact-Accenture Strategy 2019 CEO Study – The Decade to Deliver: A Call to Business Action" click here.