Businesses can seek models of value creation that generate a fair social contribution within the natural boundaries set by the planet.
We know that for many businesses, the current operating model isn’t going to be sustainable in the long term, and companies will have to transform their value-creation system. This will, for example, require sustainable production methods for agricultural commodities, circular manufacturing and consumption models, blends of product and service approaches, and a revolution in the energy system.
The shift business needs to make is dramatic and multiyear. It will be incredibly challenging for many companies, and unlikely to happen without clear aspirations and a strong imperative for change. For many companies it will mean working differently with partners and suppliers, and understanding the full lifecycle of their products and services. For incumbent players, this level of disruptive innovation is challenging, and is likely to lead to the rebalancing of corporate portfolios.
As is the case with governments, robust measures and targets, aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be required to drive execution, alongside investment in strategy, R&D and corporate venture capital. Parallel innovation will be needed from the financial sector to provide capital, and from governments to set the right enabling conditions.
Companies will need to consider how value can be created while making a fair social contribution with neutral or positive impacts on the natural world. Is their strategy consistent with maintaining global temperature rise under 2°C, with a fair distribution of earnings between tax and profit? Do all staff and workers through the supply base receive at least a living wage?