The global challenges posed by climate change also offer business opportunities to address those. These opportunities are based on new values of utilising resources sustain-ably taking care of their continued regeneration, instead of using those up to meet current needs, keeping those to nourish also future generations. In other words to look at and utilise resources from a holistic point of view. Today’s business landscape is characterized by an unprecedented, accelerating and complex mix of risks and opportunities. Every industry and every sector – in every country – is facing new challenges, which they must confront in a changing operating environment.THE RULES HAVE CHANGED
Your entire market can be disrupted in a short time by innumerable factors, be it a new technology or a sudden lack of natural resources. New markets are emerging rapidly due to megatrends such as population growth, resource scarcity or global health risks. For example, the global demand for water is set to outgrow current extraction capacity by 40% in 2030, and the global water market is expected to grow to a size of USD 1 trillion before then. The markets are melting pots of new risks and new opportunities, developing at an ever-increasing speed.
Meanwhile, consumers and investors are better informed than ever before – and they want businesses to take responsibility for the pressure our planet and its population are under. There is growing understanding – especially by business leaders and investors ahead of the curve – that it is not enough for companies to concern themselves only with short-term profits because natural disasters, social unrest or economic disparity can damage long-term prosperity.
These changes profoundly affect the way we organize our societies, live our lives and run our businesses. The old models simply no longer apply.
NEW NEEDS AND VALUES
For companies to navigate the critical developments of the new millennium, it takes a keen sense of emerging trends, a grounding in ethics and values that consumers and other stakeholders are increasingly invested in, and sustainable operations from start to finish. The businesses that understand this challenge and take action will be a step ahead.
NAVIGATING IN A NEW LANDSCAPE
With the SDGs, businesses have gained a new “north star” for a world in constant change. A universal compact for humanity, the SDGs provide a shared vision for the world we want to create – and a clear understanding that we all must contribute for it to become a reality.
The SDGs bring together world leaders, the business community, civil society and citizens around shared challenges to make change happen on a massive scale. This is the change that is needed for communities and businesses to thrive everywhere, now and in the future.
Addressing everything from inequality and conflict, to unemployment and climate change, the global goals reflect the complex, interconnected operating environments that businesses face around the world. Similarly, the unanimous adoption of the SDGs by all Governments is a testament to our growing awareness that these challenges must be tackled urgently and collectively.
The expectations on business in the new SDG era are immense. At the same time, the opportunities at hand are quickly becoming evident and appealing.
The next step is turning the aspirations of the global goals into business action and impacts in markets around the world.
MAPPING YOUR OPPORTUNITIES
Companies around the world– large and small – have already started transforming their business models to responsibly serve societal needs and tap into new markets, and are seeing success at the same time. With trillions of dollars in public and private investments to be redirected towards achieving the SDGs, the motivation for business to orient towards sustainability will only grow stronger.
The UN Global Compact is working with partners to identify new sustainable solutions, business models and opportunities. Together with DNV GL and Monday Morning, we have launched an annual Global Opportunity Report.
The 2015 and 2016 reports clearly find that while the task of tackling entrenched social problems was once strongly believed to be the realm of Government, a clear shift is taking place: progressive businesses are working for the society they want to operate in. This is not simply motivated by altruism, but rather by an increasing recognition that social risks are detrimental to the bottom line and that there even may be business opportunities in addressing them.
So far, the project has proven how ten global risks have opened 30 new market opportunities. One example: Where other reports rate food shortage as one of the biggest global risks, the Global Opportunity Report documents why this risk opens the biggest opportunity in terms of smart farming– and has the best options for ready and scalable solutions.