UN partners with Accenture Song to accelerate sustainability action
The United Nations Global Compact enlisted Accenture Song's Sustainability Studio to create the 'Forward Faster' sustainability effort
10 October 2023
The United Nations Global Compact, the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative, has unveiled the 'Forward Faster' initiative in a bid to accelerate private sector action to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The United Nations Global Compact enlisted Accenture Song's Sustainability Studio to create the effort's name and brand and bring awareness to Forward Faster through a launch film that premiered during the 78th United Nations General Assembly and includes a dedicated website and social media campaign. The work builds on Accenture's longstanding partnership with the United Nations Global Compact, which helped frame the Forward Faster campaign strategy.
Accenture Song's Sustainability Studio is dedicated to embedding sustainability and making it relevant and actionable for everyone. It is made up of human-centered designers, strategists, creatives, innovators, marketers, specialists, researchers, and producers - all with a deep understanding of sustainability challenges and tightly connected with the expansive network of sustainability experts and capabilities across Accenture at large.
The United Nations Global Compact tapped Accenture Song's Sustainability Studio to help companies understand the window for preventing irreparable damage to our world is rapidly closing, and to urge them to not fall behind the times. By committing to 'Forward Faster', companies can better focus and accelerate more ambitious action.
This idea is captured in the film's opening scene, where two young protagonists, aged nine and 10, recite quotes from leaders of the past who misjudged the trajectory of the future. The final quote takes us to 2023, representing the current misguided attitude of many leaders: "Sustainability is important, but we have more urgent issues."
These young voices – representatives for future generations – deliver an impassioned address, serving as a rallying cry to forward thinkers and leaders. With 'Forward Faster' as their guide, companies can help drive ambitious, world-changing action.
The film launched during the 78th United Nations General Assembly to a captive audience of CEOs, CSOs, officials, and government leaders. The launch of the Forward Faster initiative also includes a dedicated website and social assets.
When it comes to the SDGs, there is a demonstrated correlation between bold action and positive corporate returns, but companies still are not making enough progress. There is a significant gap between those leaders who think they are taking adequate action towards the SDGs and the reality of our progress to date on these goals. In 2022, Accenture and the United Nations Global Compact found that a staggering 92 per cent of CEOs said they believed the world would achieve the SDGs by 2030. However, asking the same question to a broader audience of business leaders only a year later, barely half (49 per cent) said they believe the same will happen. This massive loss of confidence and negative sentiment is concurrent with UN's own 2023 'Sustainable Development Report' that showed 85 per cent of SDG indicators are off-track and none of the SDGs are on track to achieve by 2030.
'Forward Faster' was built to be the toolkit for leaders who want their actions to live up to their commitments and progress faster.
Karen Land Short, global executive creative director, Accenture Song Sustainability Studio said: "In launching Forward Faster, we wanted to drive urgency but also make it clear to business leaders you don't want to miss this boat. The UN Secretary-General couldn't have put it better: 'There is no greater business plan for our world than sustainable development.'
"Business leaders are human and can't help but think about the legacies they are leaving. They are probably even hearing questions about climate change from their kids and it's giving them pause about their actions - or lack of action. This is a powerful dynamic, and it's the insight that drove us to cast kids as the spokespeople addressing the private sector."
Claudia Kirwald, the United Nations Global Compact's Head of Marketing added: "I am thrilled that Forward Faster will serve as a new global platform for credible, ambitious corporate action that will guide companies on where they can make the biggest, fastest impact for 2030. Providing guidance in critical areas like gender equality, climate action, living wages, water resilience, and SDG finance and investment, areas where the private sector can drive tangible progress across all 17 SDGs. We are excited to partner with Accenture and Accenture Song's Sustainability Studio to develop this impactful campaign, leveraging a global team of creative and sustainability professionals."