CEOs say geopolitics threatens SDGs

Although the number of CEOs committed to sustainability has risen substantially, a report shows

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Almost 90% of CEOs are worried the current geopolitical situation will hamper the progress of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

That’s according to a new study by UN Global Compact and Accenture, which reveals that 98% feel as though sustainability is a critical element of their role.

This is a 15% increase from 10 years ago, the study reveals – although optimism for sustainable action is not as strong, as many feel current situations such as the Ukraine War and energy crisis have seen a shift in priorities.

More than 2,600 CEOs from 128 countries and 18 industries were questioned for the survey.

In developing nations, 43% of CEOs revealed their climate targets have suffered due to the ongoing political situation – and this rises to 51% for leaders of businesses in developing countries.

Investment in renewable energy has grown by 49%, with half of the CEOs questioned stating their companies were implementing circular business models to work from.

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director at UN Global Compact, said: “Despite setbacks, there is room for hope. The CEOs we surveyed increasingly recognise they can build credibility and brand value by committing to the SDGs throughout their operations– not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it is good business sense.”

Accenture’s Sustainability Lead, Peter Lacy, also looked at the results with more optimism: “Not meeting the promise of the SDGs is a real concern but, at the same time, an enormous opportunity for companies that reinvent their enterprises and harness sustainability as one of the key forces of change in the next decade.

“New waves of technology investments and breakthrough innovation can put the SDGs back within reach – but only if leaders turn to sustainability for resilience to help create new markets, products and services.”