This report is a product of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission.


“2016 has unsettled business leaders everywhere. Whatever one’s political views, uncertainty and the return to a much more nationalist politics in many countries have displaced the assumption of steady global integration. Many commentators have declared that globalisation has already peaked, despite its role in the past 30- year run of unprecedented successes worldwide in health, wealth, education and life expectancy.

Certainly the contradictions of that success caught up with us in 2016. In the West, stagnant incomes among broad groups made them angry at elites who were bailed out after the global financial crisis. Frustrated voters have rejected more international integration. Elsewhere, too, those losing out either economically or environmentally, such as the citizens of smog-choked Asian cities, or socially, through the breakdown of traditional rural communities, are asking whether the costs of our global economy are greater than its benefits.

These hard questions matter to business leaders everywhere. As members of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, we argue that it is incumbent on all of us to make the case for business to be at the heart of an open global economic system. But we cannot defend a lazy return to the old model that has been so widely rejected over the past year.

We must have the courage to strike out in new directions and embrace an economic model which is not only low-carbon and environmentally sustainable, but also turns poverty, inequality and lack of financial access into new market opportunities for smart, progressive, profit-oriented companies. These complex challenges need the full and combined attention of government, civil society and business. Otherwise, there is no chance of solving them.

Solutions are urgently needed. We see the next 15 years as critical, with change starting now and accelerating over the period. Business as usual is not an option: choosing to “kick the can down the road” over the next four years will put impossible environmental and social strains on a stuttering global economy. But if enough leaders act now and collectively, we can forge a different path, one that eases the burden on finite resources and includes those currently left behind or excluded from the market, helping to address today’s political grievances.

In the pages of this report, some 35 business leaders and civil society representatives offer our prescription for a new, socially focused business model that reaches parts of the global economy previously left largely to public aid. It considers adopting the same approaches in developed markets to address similar pockets of need. Taking the UN’s new Global Goals for Sustainable Development as the basis for our action plan, we lay out how pursuing these goals in partnership with government and civil society will lead to greater, more widely shared prosperity for all by 2030. We make the case that businesses adopting this plan will transform their own prospects and could outperform those stuck in yesterday’s economic game: this is about return on capital, not just responsibility….”

Read on at: Business & Sustainable Development Commission.