Companies Need to Set More Ambitious Targets to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, United Nations Global Compact Report Shows

Companies Need to Set More Ambitious Targets to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, United Nations Global Compact Report Shows

Monday, June 15, 2020 - 10:05am

CAMPAIGN: Sustainable Development Goals

CONTENT: Press Release

UNITED NATIONS, June 15, 2020 /3BL Media/ – Today, on the occasion of its 20th-anniversary Leaders Summit, the United Nations Global Compact, in partnership with DNV GL, released a new report looking back on 20 years of corporate sustainability progress among its business participants. The UN Global Compact 20th-Anniversary Progress Report: Uniting Business in the Decade of Action uses data from its annual survey of participants supported by interviews with participants from around the world. A review on progress made in embedding the Ten Principles into their operations and contributing to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was conducted as part of the research

The 20th-Anniversary Progress Report reveals only 39 per cent of companies surveyed believe they have targets that are sufficiently ambitious to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Less than a third consider their industry to be moving fast enough to deliver priority SDGs. While 84 per cent of companies participating in the UN Global Compact are taking action on SDGs, only 46 per cent are embedding them into their core business and only 37 per cent are designing business models that contribute to the SDGs.

Progress is uneven across the SDGs, the report finds, with many companies choosing to focus on Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, Goal 13: Climate Action, and Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being. Meanwhile, less traction has been made in advancing the socially-focused SDGs such as reduced inequalities, gender equality, and peace, justice and strong institutions.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 61 per cent of companies provide products and services that contribute to the SDGs (up from 48 per cent in 2019).
  • 57 per cent of companies are measuring the impact of their own operations relating to the SDGs but very few extend this to suppliers (13 per cent), raw materials (10 per cent) and into product use (10 per cent).
  • Only 29 per cent of companies publicly advocate the importance of action in relation to the SDGs (down from 53 per cent in 2019).

Commenting on the report’s findings, Lise Kingo, CEO of the UN Global Compact, said,

“With less than 4,000 days remaining until the 2030 target, the change we need to see in the Decade of Action will not happen through incremental improvements and adjustments to ‘business-as-usual.’ Companies need to step-up and transform their business models to turn policy commitments into action that can lead to actual performance improvements. Now is the time for CEOs to speak up and ensure all companies fully integrate the Ten Principles and raise their SDG Ambition to meet the needs of society and the planet.”

Remi Eriksen, Group President and CEO, DNV GL said:

“Our world has been rocked this past year. From the clamour of school children protesting the lack of action on the climate threat, to the disconcerting new normal of the pandemic and, most recently, the calls for justice and equality around the world. All of these developments remind us that the Sustainable Development Goals are not just ideals to aspire to, but that they are absolutely fundamental in creating a just society, with equal opportunity for all on a planet that is habitable. The report concludes that The Decade of Action requires all companies to take a deep look at where we are falling short and set industry-specific goals.”

Click here to read the report.

About the UN Global Compact 20th-Anniversary Progress Report: Uniting Business in the Decade of Action

This Progress Report provides an assessment of how companies participating in the UN Global Compact are adopting the Ten Principles and taking action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Based on data collected as part of the UN Global Compact annual survey supported by interviews with UN Global Compact participants from around the world, the report takes stock of how businesses are performing on critical sustainability topics. For the first time, the 2020 report reviews data from a sectoral perspective. It also dives into the current state of progress for specific industry contributions to the SDGs. Broadly, the report finds that companies need to take more ambitious actions, at scale, to meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda and create the world we want. This special 20th-anniversary edition of the UN Global Compact Progress Report was developed in collaboration with DNV GL.

About the United Nations Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Launched in 2000, the mandate of the UN Global Compact is to guide and support the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. With more than 10,000 companies and 3,000 non-business signatories based in over 160 countries, and more than 60 Local Networks, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world.   

For more information, follow @globalcompact on social media and visit our website at

About DNV GL

DNV GL is the independent third-party provider of sustainability, assurance and risk management services to industries in energy, shipping, automotive & aerospace, food & beverage and healthcare – among others, with 12,000 employees operating in more than 100 countries. Through its broad experience and deep expertise DNV GL advances safety and sustainable performance, sets industry benchmarks, and inspires and invents solutions. DNV GL has a dedicated global practice of more than 250 experts focused on sustainability matters. Driven by its purpose, to safeguard life, property, and the environment, DNV GL helps tackle the challenges and global transformations facing its customers and the world today and is a trusted voice for many of the world’s most successful and forward-thinking companies.


UN Global Compact
Alexandra Gee: +44 7887 804594