2030 Sustainability Goals: can businesses rise to the challenge?

This panel event asks whether the private sector can rise to the challenge of meeting the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Almost five years into the fifteen-year trek towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the role of business in delivering social and environmental outcomes is squarely in the spotlight. The convening objective of the World Economic Forum this year was to give concrete meaning to “stakeholder capitalism”. In August 2019, the Business Roundtable whose members are chief executives of major US companies issued a path-breaking declaration on the purpose of a corporation: to serve all stakeholders, moving away from shareholder primacy. A month later, the UN Global Compact and Accenture Strategy unveiled the world’s largest CEO study, across countries and sectors, to assess business execution towards the SDGs.

So, what is the state of play? Are businesses on track to deliver on their side of the bargain? What are the best practices? What are the shortcomings and pitfalls to watch out for? What steps are required, by whom and in what sequence, to ramp up private sector contribution to the SDGs?  Can businesses really rise to the challenge?

Listen to the podcast: 2030 Sustainability Goals

Watch the event video on YouTube

Event recorded Tuesday 25 February.


Catherine Howarth joined ShareAction as Chief Executive in 2008. ShareAction coordinates civil society activism to promote responsible investment across Europe. She is a board member of the Scott Trust, owner of The Guardian, serving on the Scott Trust’s investment committee. She was a Member Nominated Trustee of The Pensions Trust for five years until Spring 2013. Catherine was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader in 2014.

Julie Hudson is UBS IB's Global Head of ESG Research. Her external publications include The Environment on Stage: Scenery or Shapeshifter? (Routledge, 2019); From Red to Green? How the Financial Credit Crunch Could bankrupt the Environment (Earthscan, 2011), and Food Policy and the Environmental Credit Crunch: From Soup to Nuts(Routledge, 2013), both co-authored with economist Paul Donovan.

Peter Lacy is a Senior Managing Director at Accenture. He leads the UK & Ireland Practice, the Global Sustainability Practice and partnerships with organisations such as the World Economic Forum and United Nations. 

Mary Martin is Director of the UN Business and Human Security Initiative at LSE. She is author of the book Corporate Peace: How Global Business Shapes a Hostile World.

Lutfey Siddiqi is Visiting Professor in Practice at LSE IDEAS and Advisory Board member at LSE Systemic Risk Centre. He was previously Global Head of Emerging Markets for Foreign Exchange, Rates & Credit at UBS Investment Bank.

The event is co-hosted by LSE IDEAS and LSE Systemic Risk Centre.

Event hashtag: #LSESDG

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. We connect academic knowledge of diplomacy and strategy with the people who use it.

LSE Systemic Risk Centre (@LSE_SRC) was set up to study the risks that may trigger the next financial crisis and to develop tools to help policymakers and financial institutions become better prepared.