April 22 is World Earth Day. This day was first commemorated in 1970 in the United States to raise awareness about the need for environmental protection. Every year, new institutions, NGOs, and companies around the world are implementing more actions. However, the data are still worrying; according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), around 10 million hectares of forests are lost each year. This phenomenon has serious consequences on biodiversity and the living conditions of many populations, as well as contributing to climate change.

As companies face increasingly complex challenges such as climate change, rising inequalities, global conflicts, and energy crises, the big question is: How can companies take a significant leap towards sustainability? How can they start the transition from traditional business models focused on profits to new models focused on shared and sustainable value?

If a company’s goal is to undergo a true transition to sustainable development and a regenerative business model, it needs to train its staff on sustainability topics, starting with senior management.

Now, what skills are needed and what should companies be investing in to help develop their teams, according to the United Nations?

  • Data analysis: Sustainability requires collecting, analyzing, and reporting relevant data to stakeholders, but specially to guide decision-making and measuring progress. To question, challenge, and digest data becomes increasingly important to find the most appropriate methods to assess and present the results to allow senior management to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Challenges of climate change and natural resource management: This pillar might be challenging for someone who leads sustainability areas with no background in environmental sciences. But it is one of the main challenges that organizations face. According to S&P Global and GreenBiz Group’s State of Green Business 2021 report, as of October 2020, more than 1,500 organizations around the world had expressed their support for the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an 85% increase since June of that same year. The report also shoes that nearly 60% of the world’s 100 largest public-owned companies support the recommendations. There are also guidelines on the need to establish environmental goals such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), Science Based Targets, and even SASB or GRI standards. It is vital for those who lead sustainability areas, regardless of their background, to have a good grasp on how to tackle environmental issues that are material to their business.
  • Measuring impact: Financial goals are no longer the only element to assess the value produced by the economy; other indicators that measure human prosperity and different sources of value are also being considered: social, ecological, cultural, and even physical indicators. The economist Kate Raworth highlights the city of Oberlin’s Environmental Dashboard. The city took a collaborative approach to resilience, prosperity, and community metrics to monitor its goals, educate, and empower its citizens. If a city can do this, companies need to do it as well. Setting clear metrics with real impact is vital for organizations to track their progress, but also to be accountable before their stakeholders. The sustainability team is key to persuade the other areas to establish social, environmental, and economic indicators.


This set of skills is just a summary of the comprehensive list required, and which therefore should be sought. On its “The future of the Chief Sustainability Officer” report, Deloitte acknowledges that the role of a Chief Sustainability Officer is becoming increasingly clear: aligning the business model with the sustainability strategy and making it part of the operation. Doing so requires collaboration, organization, management, and communication, as well as exceptional communication skills to influence and persuade internal and external stakeholders with extremely diverse goals.

Similarly, companies can assess their contribution to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To achieve real progress, the UN Global Compact Academy platform, in collaboration with 2030 Builders, has a new set of courses that can be implemented by companies: Unlocking sustainability: Engaging and upskilling employees.

  • Here are the most popular courses of 2023 and 2024, according to the UN: 1. Setting science-based targets (30 minutes). We need ambitious climate action NOW. This course introduces science-based targets (SBTs), explores the business case, and breaks down the complexities and steps needed to set SBTs. More.
  • How to understand and take action on the global goals (30 minutes). Did you know that only 15% of the SDGs are currently on track? The private sector plays a decisive role in this transformation and offers great opportunities for innovation and growth with the right approach. This course will show you practical steps to contribute to the Global Goals using a principles-based approach. More.
  • Business and Human Rights: How companies can operationalize the UN Guiding Principles (2 hours). This learning plan helps businesses understand what human rights mean and how they can respect and support them in line with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). More.
  • Future-proofing your small and medium-sized enterprise (60 minutes). SMEs face unique challenges in integrating the sustainability strategies that are critical to long-term business success and resilience. This course is designed to help you break down those barriers and get you started on your sustainability journey. More.
  • Taking financial action for the SDGs: Implementing the CFO Principles (30 minutes). There is enormous potential in aligning corporate investments and finance with the SDGs. In this course, developed by the UN Global Compact Academy and the CFO Coalition for the SDGs, you will learn about four crucial principles that CFOs can implement as they build long-term sustainable value. More.