Findings from the 2024 Sustainability Leaders survey reinforce the urgency of climate action and point to the proliferation of legislation promoting sustainability across the globe, while simultaneously noting significant backlash against the ESG agenda.

The survey conducted by GlobeScan and the ERM Sustainability Institute captures the perspectives of hundreds of sustainability experts worldwide on the priorities and forces shaping the sustainable development agenda. The survey explores sustainability leadership across governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and companies and tracks priority issues as well as the most important recent developments. It was conducted between April 4 and May 30, 2024, and includes responses from nearly five hundred sustainability experts across more than 60 countries. 

Though the positions of companies in the corporate leadership ranking have remained relatively steady across the past decade, there has been a marked change in the share of respondents recognizing each leading organization. Patagonia is the most recognized corporate leader for the second year in a row after surpassing Unilever in the 2023 survey, continuing an upward trajectory that has 34 percent of experts naming them as a sustainability leader. In contrast, second place Unilever continues to decline from a peak when nearly 50 percent of experts identified them as a top corporate leader in 2018 to a point where 24 percent of respondents recognize them this way now.

There is less variation in which NGOs are perceived as leaders, with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) remaining the top leader across all sectors and geographies. Leading governments have also remained steady, with experts identifying many European governments as leading the advancement of sustainable development.

The survey’s findings highlight the global shift toward a more unified approach for sustainability-related action and sustainability performance disclosure to stakeholders. Even so, a broad range of priority issues and varying strategies on how to address them means the sustainability landscape remains dynamic. Leaders from governments, non-governmental organizations, and corporations will need to be even more innovative and progressive in their efforts to maintain leadership.

Download the report to read the complete findings.