As we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating social and economic effects, companies are continuing their efforts to become more sustainable — and some are being recognized for their efforts.

The 2020 Sustainability Leaders, a GlobeScan-SustainAbility survey of experts worldwide, reveals which companies are perceived to be leaders on sustainability during this challenging time by sustainability professionals representing business, government, NGOs and academia. Over 700 experts were surveyed online across 71 countries in May.

Results show that Unilever continues to dominate as a recognized leader among the sustainability community, securing the leading position for the 10th year in a row, with Patagonia and IKEA following in the second and third spots, respectively.

Data from the survey indicate that corporate sustainability leaders need to navigate an increasing sense of urgency for almost all sustainability challenges. At the same time, about half of experts fear that the impact of the current pandemic will deprioritize the sustainability agenda over the next decade.

While environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and water pollution dominate the list of issues that experts say are the most urgent — these are all considered more urgent than they were in 2019 — the perceived urgency of social issues is also on the rise. Experts express significant increases in concern about poverty, economic inequality and discrimination, and growing attention is also given to accessibility of needs such as education, food and energy.

Although the issues we are facing are becoming more urgent, most experts believe that the pandemic will have a negative impact on the sustainable development agenda over the next 10 years, potentially making the transformation to sustainable business much more challenging. The pandemic and its economic aftermath are expected to further exacerbate inequalities and poverty, emphasizing the importance of the social aspects of the sustainability agenda.

Read the full article about corporate sustainability in leadership by Tove Malmqvist at GreenBiz.