New Report: Nordic Companies More Pessimistic about Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals than the Rest of the World
In 2023, we are halfway on the journey towards Agenda 2030 and achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). During the high-level week of the UN General Assembly, the UN Global Compact local networks of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have launched a report that examines the views of Nordic companies on business and sustainability.
95 percent of surveyed companies believe that the private sector plays a crucial role in achieving the SDGs, according to a new report The Path Towards 2030: Nordic Corporate Sustainability Stocktake commissioned by the Nordic UN Global Compact Local Networks.
However, only 27 percent of respondents believe that companies are doing enough for sustainable development, and a mere 28 percent believe that the world will achieve the SDGs by 2030. The view of the Nordic companies is more pessimistic compared to the rest of the world.
The report highlights that Nordic companies struggle with a lack of competence, complex regulatory landscape and limited data. They are particularly challenged with goals concerning nature and biodiversity. While climate action is in the spotlight for many companies, only 40 percent of respondents have disclosed nature related risks and impacts across a part or the whole of their organizations. The respected numbers are 52 percent in the rest of Europe and 57 percent globally.
"Nordic companies stand at the forefront of implementing of SDGs, and have the potential to influence the level of ambition of corporate responsibility globally. The pessimism among Nordic companies may be due to the increasing awareness of the task at hand. When you understand the level you should be on, you also know how much work remains to be done," says Marja Innanen, the Executive Director of UN Global Compact Finland.
Leadership is at the Core of Sustainable Development, According to Nordic Companies
The purpose of the report The Path Towards 2030: Nordic Corporate Sustainability Stocktake is to identify the challenges, needs, and opportunities Nordic companies face when trying to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The report is part of a larger global study conducted in collaboration with the UN Global Compact and Accenture. From the global survey, 257 responses from Nordic companies in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland have been extracted and analyzed. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with sustainability professionals in the Nordic region.
According to the report, 89 percent of respondents recognize leadership as the primary driver for action. Engaged CEOs and linking key performance indicators and financial incentives to sustainability ensure engagement throughout the organization. In contrast, a major reason for inaction is absence of sustainability focused leadership and short-term ROIs.
"To remain sustainability leaders, Nordic companies must accelerate their focus on sustainable leadership, upskill their workforce, invest in data, and use that data in management. At the same time, companies view governments to be more important drivers of sustainable development than consumers or investors. With this report, we want to provide companies and policymakers with insights and information about the state of sustainable development in the Nordic private sector. By sharing the challenges and success factors of companies, we can find the next steps to accelerate progress," says Innanen.