Sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth up to US$12 trillion and add up 380 million jobs by 2030. Putting the Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, at the heart of the world’s economic strategy could unleash a step-change in growth and productivity, with an investment boom in sustainable infrastructure as a critical driver.
However, this will not happen without radical change in the business and investment community. Real leadership by CEOs and C Suite leaders is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to fix the economy.
“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.” Paul Polman – CEO Unilever
In its flagship report Better Business, Better World, the Commission concludes that:
- The world’s current economic model is deeply flawed. Inequality, the growing impact of climate change, pervasive corruption and armed conflict contribute to increased uncertainty and risk. The anti-globalisation sentiment of 2016 is a result of unequal growth and unsustainable business practices. Markets need a new operating system that works within safe planetary boundaries and does a better job of extending prosperity to all.
- The Global Goals offer a compelling new growth strategy to reverse this trend and drive innovation, growth and development at unprecedented scale. And the potential prize for business is significant. New research from the Business and Sustainable Development Commission shows pursuing 60 sustainable and inclusive market “hotspots” in just four key areas (energy; cities; food and agriculture; health and wellbeing) could create at least US$12 trillion in business value by 2030—equivalent to 10 percent of forecast GDP—and generate up to 380 million jobs, mostly in developing countries.
- Innovative financing can unlock the US$2.4 trillion needed from diverse sources of public and private investment to advance inclusive growth and sustainability; much of this potential funding is currently squirreled away in savings accounts. This is actually quite manageable. There are US$290 trillion in assets worldwide and growing by 5% a year; but current investment focus is largely on short-term gains.
- Business must forge a new social contract with government and society to regain trust and restore legitimacy. Sustainable job creation, treating people fairly and with dignity, and minimising environmental impacts will be key. And it includes addressing the true cost of doing business, including but not restricted to the price of carbon. Putting a price on environmental and social externalities will help create sustainable markets, drive greater stability and protect society and environment alike.
Business Commission Chair Mark Malloch-Brown explains that the SDGs are about better jobs, safer communities, and cleaner environment—qualities that are factors in good business.