Sustainability can unlock $12tn of economic value

25 January 2017

Sustainable business models could open up economic opportunities worth $12tn and create 380m jobs by 2030, according to research.

In a report the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) identified 60 sustainable market “hotspots” covering areas including energy and agriculture.

The report said $4.3tn could be created in the energy sector, $3.7tn in cities, $2.3tn in food and agriculture and $1.8tn in health and well-being. A total of $12tn was potentially available, representing more than 10% of today’s global GDP.

The hotspots identified in the report have the potential to grow between two and three times faster than average GDP over the next 10-15 years, said the report.

The key to unlocking this value is for companies to embed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their strategies.

However, achieving the SDGs will require annual investment of $2.4tn, necessitating innovative financing from private and public sources.

“As stewards of long-term capital, the investment industry and its clients can support the achievement of the SDGs by creating simple, standardised sustainability metrics integral to the investment process,” said Hendrik du Toit, CEO of Investec Asset Management and a member of BSDC.

“We also need new streamlined partnerships with governments and communities that can reduce risks for everyone and bring more private investment at lower cost into sustainable infrastructure development.”

BSDC believes a “new social contract” between business, government and society is essential to redefine the role of business within a fairer economy.

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