On 16 January, SDG Advocate Paul Polman joined more than 35 CEOs and civil society leaders of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (Business Commission) to launch its flagship report entitled, “Better Business, Better World”.
Released in the same week as the World Economist Forum in Davos, the report makes the core argument that the Sustainable Development Goals can create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030. The Commission believes the SDGs provide the private sector with a new growth strategy that opens valuable market opportunities while creating a world that is both sustainable and inclusive. And the potential rewards for doing so are significant.
“At a time when our economic model is pushing the limits of our planetary boundaries and condemning many to a future without hope, the Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way out,” said Polman, CEO of Unilever, and a commissioner. “Many are now realizing the enormous opportunities that exist for enlightened businesses willing to stand up and address these urgent challenges. But every day that passes is another lost opportunity for action. We must react quickly, decisively and collectively to ensure a fairer and more prosperous world for all.”
The report reveals 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 hotspots 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 the Global Goals in their strategies. The report also shows that 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%.
“This report is a call to action to business leaders. We are on the edge and business as usual will drive more political opposition and land us with an economy that simply doesn’t work for enough people. We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. “Better Business, Better World shows there is a compelling incentive for why the latter isn’t just good for the environment and society; it makes good business sense.”
While the opportunities are compelling, the Business Commission makes it clear in its report that 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 Global Goals. At the same time, the Commission believes a “new social contract” between business, government and society is essential to defining the role of business in a new, fairer economy.
The Business and Sustainable Development Commission was launched in Davos in January 2016. It brings together 36 leaders from business, finance, civil society, labour, and international organisations, with the twin aims of mapping the economic prize that could be available to business if the UN Sustainable Development Goals are achieved, and describing how business can contribute to delivering these goals.
To read the full report visit report.businesscommission.org