The 2016 United Nations Global Compact-Accenture Strategy CEO Study—the most recent in more than a decade of research—reveals a window of opportunity in the minds of the world’s business leaders. Since the last study in 2013, frustrated ambition has given way to optimism as CEOs see a mandate to solve societal challenges as a core element in the search for competitive advantage.
The adoption of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides the backdrop to this year’s study. Results suggest that business leaders are committed to driving forward this universal ambition, forging a stronger global environment for doing business in the foothills of the fourth industrial revolution. The majority of CEOs surveyed (87 percent) believe the SDGs provide an opportunity to rethink approaches to sustainable value creation—and 78 percent already see opportunities to contribute through core business.
While CEOs recognize the scale of the challenge, the milestones of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement are leading to a growing acceptance of the mandate for business to play a leading role in Agenda 2030. Nearly half of all CEOs surveyed (49 percent) believe that business will be the single most important actor in delivering the SDGs.
Leading businesses are redefining competitiveness, and changing the world in the process. In an era of digital disruption and radical transparency, business leaders are grounding strategies for value creation in societal purpose. Against a backdrop of change as dramatic and uncertain as any in the last 250 years, the adoption of the SDGs gives the world a universal roadmap for development. The private sector now has a window of opportunity to reshape the way we live and work.
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