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Zaidi: One Earth is Not Enough For Our Survival

Mohammad Zaidi, EVP and CTO, Alcoa
Thursday, 5 Aug 2010 | 4:39 PM ET
Daly and Newton | Stone | Getty Images

In 2050, we expect the world population to reach 9 billion people.

If we continue on the same path as we are today, those 9 billion people will require the resources of 2.3 planets in order to survive.

While humankind has achieved many amazing technological innovations throughout time, creating two more Earths is likely out of the question.

So, 29 major corporations representing 14 industries came together through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and asked, "How can we create a sustainable society by 2050? What will the world look like in 2050? What are the challenges we will face? What are the pathways to get us to a sustainable society in just 40 years?

And, what is business' role?"

Co-chaired by executives from Alcoa , PricewaterhouseCoopers, Storebrand and Syngenta, the Vision 2050 team - just like Techonomists - believes that the challenges our society faces today can indeed be addressed by technology, business innovation and human inventiveness.

In essence, this is exactly what the 18-month Vision 2050 project was all about: turning challenges into pathways for a sustainable world and in the process enabling huge opportunities for businesses and society. We believe there are vast new business opportunities - valued as much as US $6.2 trillion annually by 2050 - for companies that have the foresight to lead with a sustainable development agenda.

Business will not be able to get there alone, though.

Business, governments and NGOs must work closely together to transform markets, prices and competition. Collaboration, enabled by unprecedented collaboration tools, will be part of the equation.

To date, we should be encouraged by the progress that has already been made.

We have seen vast strides made in the fields of agro-genetics, biomedicine, nano-materials, renewable energy, computational power and global connectivity. Clearly, these advances are paving the pathway for transformational change. I believe that innovations based on these platforms and new ones will dramatically reduce the resource needs for any functionality and will hence enable our journey to achieve our Vision: 9 billion people living well, within the means of one planet by 2050.

Look for extensive coverage from Techonomy online and on-air this week on CNBC.

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Dr. Mohammad A. Zaidi was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer – Technology and Corporate Quality for Alcoa in 2006. He had served as Chief Technical Officer and a vice president of the company since 2003. He is responsible for corporate technology programs and projects, as well as strategic product and process developments. Dr. Zaidi is also a member of the Alcoa Executive Council, the senior leadership group that provides strategic direction for the company.

Dr. Zaidi currently serves as Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Vision 2050 project.

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