Davos WEF
Davos WEF

Sustainable business can unlock $12 trillion, says new report

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

Businesses could create up to 380 million jobs and unlock $12 trillion in economic opportunities by 2030 if they adopt more sustainable development models, a new report from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission said.

In a news release on Monday, the Commission said that the report, Better Business, Better World, recognized that "the last few decades" had seen many millions of people taken out of poverty. It also recognized, however, that the same period had seen unequal growth, increasing job insecurity and debt, and "ever greater environmental risks."

The Commission was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016, with its core mission resting on making a strong argument for "why business leaders should seize upon sustainable development as the greatest opportunity of a lifetime." Commissioners include the Alibaba Group's Jack Ma, Aviva CEO Mark Wilson and Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation.

"This report is a call to action to business leaders," Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, said in a statement.

"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," Malloch-Brown added. "We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth."

Malloch-Brown went on to state that the report showed that there was a "compelling incentive for why the latter isn't just good for the environment and society; it makes good business sense."

The core of the report focused on 17 Sustainable Development Goals, described by the United Nations as a "universal call" to put an end to poverty, protect the planet and create an environment where people enjoy both peace and prosperity.

These goals offered the private sector a growth strategy that had the potential to both open up market opportunities and create a "sustainable and inclusive planet" the Commission said.

"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," Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever and a commissioner, said.

"Many are now realizing the enormous opportunities that exist for enlightened businesses willing to stand up and address these urgent challenges," Polman added. "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."

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