Businesses can flourish by helping to tackle global ills, UN-backed report says
Businesses that wish to thrive in a global economy must respond to major social and environmental trends that are reshaping markets, argues a new report cosponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Tomorrow's Markets: Global Trends and Their Implications for Business, released today by UNEP, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Resources Institute, says that future markets will favour businesses that partner with government and civil society groups to serve basic needs, enhance human skills, increase economic capacity, and help remedy inequities.
Since the world economy depends on a base of natural resources that is being severely degraded, reducing consumption and waste creates new opportunities for businesses to grow through the innovation of less wasteful process and with life-enhancing goods and services, according to Tomorrow’s Markets.
The report stresses that wherever they operate, businesses must meet both increasingly rigorous governmental regulations as well as societal expectations of socially responsible behaviour. It highlights critical trends that businesses can harness in order to turn profits and foster progress. For example, the report notes that today, over 400 million people use the Internet, which will have about a billion users by 2005, but more than half the world’s peoples have never used a telephone.
“This report emphasizes global trends that will help business leaders better understand the inter-relationships between environment and
development issues, and, in turn, respond more effectively to the enormous challenges before us,” said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer. A sound, healthy environment for development “makes business sense,” he added.