UNGC CEO Study on Sustainability

The UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013

On Wednesday, September 18th, 2013, I went to a private briefing dinner on the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study on Sustainability 2013 hosted by fellow Young Global Leader Peter Lacy, Managing Director of Accenture Strategy & Sustainability for Asia Pacific and CEO Study Lead.

The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative and this report represents perspectives from 1,000 CEO around the globe. Peter walked us through the highlights of the study which were in some ways surprising. Sustainability has certainly come a long way over the last decade and is firmly on the CEO agenda, but there is a sense of “frustrated ambition” now that some of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Here are some of the mixed headlines:

Sustainability is still important…
* 63% expect sustainability to transform their industry in five years.
* 76% believe that embedding sustainability into core business will drive revenue growth and new opportunities.
* 67% do not believe business is doing enough to address global sustainability challenges.

But there is a slight pull-back…
* Companies are stuck on a plateau of good intentions uncertain of their next steps.
* While 93% of CEOs regard sustainability as key to success, only 45% feel sustainability is “very important” to future success.
* Two-thirds selected “growth and employment” as top priorities to address for future business success—a reflection of the economic priorities foremost in the minds of many.

The biggest headline: CEOs make an unequivocal call for greater government intervention to shape a supportive landscape for business action on sustainability.

While some are still struggling to make the business case for sustainability, many are looking to become “transformative leaders” harnessing sustainability as an opportunity for innovation and growth at scale. This is an approach that is focused on measuring value and is more collaborative across industries and sectors.

Find out more on the report.

Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA.

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