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The 2023 SDG Pioneers campaign aims to recognise a combination of:

  • C-suite leaders that have truly innovated their business strategies and operations to drive ambitious SDG targets, scale and impact across their companies
  • *No specified age limit in 2023 (e.g. not “35 and under” as last year), but younger applicants will be given special consideration—a “bonus point”— in our internal review methodology, the same way we do this to ensure diversity in company size and region.
  • Local Networks are allowed to only recognize 1 (one) SDG Pioneer who will continue to the Global Round. *All Local Round submissions must be completed recognised by 15 May 2023.


As part of the 2023 UN Global Compact SDG Pioneers program, the Global Compact Network South Africa is searching for professionals who are committed to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Through their own company or by mobilizing other businesses, SDG Pioneers help advance one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals while also contributing to business success.

The GCNSA will award the 2023 Global Compact Network South Africa SDG Pioneer at the local level. The selected individual will then have the opportunity to participate in the final search for global SDG Pioneers to be recognized by the UN Global Compact.


National and Global Rounds

Global Compact Local Networks are hosting country-level SDG Pioneers programs this year to seek out individuals locally who will then compete in a global round. The country-level programs will take place from 3 April 2023 to 15 May 2023 before the global round, which will take place from May to August 2023.

Local Networks are allowed to only recognize 1 (one) SDG Pioneer who will continue to the Global Round.

Internal Review

The judging process for local rounds consists of an internal review and an external review. The internal review will be conducted by the Global Compact Network South Africa based on pre-determined judging criteria by the UN Global Compact. Five successful candidates will be chosen from this step to move onto the external review.

External Review

This round of review will be conducted by an External Review Committee consisting of a government official, GCNC board members, and leaders from business, academia, and non-profit.


Employee engagement and recognition – The program provides companies with an opportunity to highlight how their employees are advancing the SDGs and are indeed next-generation leaders. Enable change agents for the SDGs – Leadership in the 2030 era requires change agents, and the SDG Pioneers Program provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for professionals to push their vision forward within their organizations and create change. National and global recognition – SDG Pioneers will receive visibility and be recognized for the great work that they have done to advance the SDGs. The Global SDG Pioneers will be announced at the 2020 UN General Assembly in September.


  • Learning and development resources. A comprehensive curriculum with a blend of learning opportunities including online and in-person workshops, case studies, company visits and forum discussions.
  • Professional experience. Connect with other business units and collaborate on innovative projects relative to the company and industry.
  • Coaching, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. Build working relationships and learn from some of the brightest minds working on sustainability and innovation from around the world.
  • Be part of a global network of leading young professionals from some of the top companies across every continent.


  • 3 APRIL 2023 – 15 MAY 2023 Local Round Submission Period
  • 30 JUNE 2023 Local SDG Pioneers Announced
  • 15 MAY 2023 – AUGUST 2023 Global Round Review and Selection
  • MID-JUNE 2023 Announcement and Recognition at the 2023 Leaders Summit


2023 Applications Are Now Open

Contact the Global Compact Network South Africa at to learn more.

2020 Winners Of Global Compact Network South Africa SDG Pioneer

View 2019 Winners Of Global Compact Network South Africa SDG Pioneer