A landmark report launched by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) reveals that pursuing sustainable and inclusive business models could unlock economic opportunities worth at least US$12 trillion a year by 2030 and generate up to 380 million jobs, mostly in developing countries.
The BSDC’s flagship Better Business, Better World report, recognizes that while the last few decades have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, they have also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, ever more debt and greater environmental risks. This mix has fueled an anti-globalization reaction in many countries, with business and financial interests seen as central to the problem, and is undermining the long-term economic growth that the world needs.
The report positions the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a compelling new strategy to reverse this trend, highlighting their potential to unleash innovation, economic growth, and development at an unprecedented scale. However, this potential will not be realized without radical change in the business and investment community. Real leadership is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to address the flaws in the current economic model.
The BSDC, which is comprised of 35 CEOs and civil society leaders, has spent the last year exploring the key question: “What will it take for business to be central to building a sustainable market economy-one that can help to deliver the SDGs?” The Better Business, Better World report seeks to answer this question while also highlighting the scale of the economic prize that could be available to business if the SDGs are realized.
Key findings of Better Business, Better World
60 sustainable and inclusive market “hotspots” in just four key economic areas could create at least US$12 trillion, worth over 10% of today’s GDP. The breakdown of the four areas and their potential values are: Energy US$4.3 trillion; Cities: US$3.7 trillion; Food & Agriculture US$2.3 trillion; Health & Well-being US$1.8 trillion.
“SDG hot spots” identified in the report have the potential to grow 2-3 times faster than average GDP over the next 10-15 years. Beyond the US$12 trillion directly estimated, conservative analysis shows potential for an additional US$8 trillion of value creation across the wider economy if companies embed SDGs in their strategies. Furthermore, factoring in the cost of externalities (negative impacts from business activities such as carbon emissions or pollution) increases the overall value of opportunities by almost 40%.
Two critical conditions must be met to build these new markets. First, innovative financing from both private and public sources will be needed to unlock the US$2.4 trillion required annually to achieve the SDGs. At the same time, a “new social contract” between business, government and society is essential to defining the role of business in a new, fairer economy.
About the Business & Sustainable Development Commission
The Commission brings together three dozen leaders from business, finance, civil society, labor, and international organizations, with the twin aims of mapping the economic prize that could be available to business if the SDGs are achieved, and describing how business can contribute to achieving them. The SDGs set out 17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030.
Download the “Better Business, Better World” report and its executive summaries are also available in the following languages: Portuguese, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Arabic.
Originally posted on the WBCSD website.