In September 2015, an unprecedented agenda to lift all humanity and protect our planet was launched by world leaders at a historic United Nations summit. At the heart of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development are its 17 sustainable development objectives and 169 related objectives, which together demonstrate the interconnection of global problems, while opening the way to a better world.

Three months later, the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted to urgently strengthen the global response to the climate crisis and accelerate the actions and investments required for the transition to a low-carbon future. Yet, despite the multiplicity of commitments in response to these powerful and interdependent general plans, an analysis of progress has found that the world has remained decidedly backward.

To better understand how all sectors of society can intensify efforts and arrive on schedule, a thorough review of progress made up to 2019, defined as the budget year, was undertaken. While United Nations Member States review progress at national level, the United Nations Global Progress Report specifically examines the actions of participating companies around the world on the journey to 2030.

This report provides essential insights into how companies are applying universal principles to their strategies and operations and collaboration with other stakeholders to support the 2030 Agenda. Finally, identify the transformations needed to get the business community on track as we approach 2020.

The report attempts to answer two main questions: "What progress have we made so far?", "Are we on track to achieve our goals?" On this, the evidence is clear: progress has been made, but nowhere near the scale and pace needed to achieve one of the 17 global goals or fulfill the promise of the Paris Agreement.

Change is happening on many fronts, but not uniformly around the world. This uneven progress is present both within and between countries, hindering long-term growth. Where changes are occurring, these are not significant enough to meet the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. Despite the efforts, inequalities are increasing, especially for those most affected by the growing climate crisis.

The role of the private sector

To ensure the maximum impact for the 2030 Agenda, the full involvement of the business community with its resources and global reach is needed.

In fact, the 2019 CEO study examining participants in the UN Global Compact shows that 86% of CEOs recognize that the global economic system must focus on fair growth. Smart CEOs also know that sustainable business is good business, with 73% claiming to build trust and reputation and 44% indicating sustainability opportunities to generate revenue and meet consumer demands.

Companies are also increasingly committed to communicating their corporate sustainability efforts in a transparent and public manner. In fact, since the United Nations Global Compact - the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world - was launched in 2000, business participants have presented nearly 65,000 annual corporate sustainability reports.

What are the sustainable development goals that companies adopt?

66% of decent work and economic growth

61% Gender equality

60% good health and well-being

Responsible consumption and production at 50%

48% Climate action

48% Industry, innovation and infrastructure

47% of quality education

40% economic and clean energy

39% partnerships for the objectives

Inequalities reduced by 39%

34% Sustainable cities and communities

32% of clean water and sanitation

28% Peace, justice and strong institutions

25% No poverty

21% Life on earth

20% Zero Hunger

13% Safeguarding underwater life

The 17 sustainable development goals envisage a healthy planet devoid of poverty and inequality by 2030. They recognize that solutions to global challenges such as hunger, injustice and climate change must be put forward holistically and that all sectors of society have a important role to play.

To meet the 2030 deadline to transform our world, the pace and extent of progress must be urgently accelerated by all stakeholders, including businesses.