More than 80 major companies write to Theresa May saying Britain’s ‘prosperity and well-being’ are at stake as report warns ‘costs and uncertainty of unsustainable development could swell until there is no viable world in which to do business’
It is an unremittingly bleak vision of the future: over the next decade the world’s economy stagnates, fossil fuels ramp up global warming and the gap between rich and poor widens, fuelling nationalist tensions based on resentment of the ‘global elite’.
But, while a major new report by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) warns this appears to be humanity’s current path, it also spells out how to create not quite “heaven on Earth” but a world that is wealthier, more peaceful and fair for all.
And their call for the world to start living up to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals was backed by more than 80 major companies in a joint letter to Theresa May, which urged the UK Government to take this “essential” step to secure “our long-term prosperity and the well-being of generations to come”.
However, Ms May did not respond personally to the letter, with the Department for International Development instead issuing a response on behalf of the Government in an implicit snub to the letter’s call for all departments, “not only” DfID, to get involved.
The UN’s ‘Global Goals’, as they are known, seem at first sight to be almost impossibly ambitious.
There should be “no poverty” and “zero hunger” in the world, universal health coverage, a decent education for all, gender equality, access to affordable and clean energy, action on climate change, the list goes on.
But the BSDC’s report, compiled after a year of research into their effects, says achieving them is actually key to delivering massive growth.
The document, called Better Business, Better World, estimates the Global Goals could be worth up to $36,000bn (£30,000bn) a year in savings and extra revenue by 2030.
They based this on an analysis of four major economic sectors – food and agriculture; energy and materials; cities; and health and wellbeing – which would benefit to the tune of $12,000bn a year. They then estimated the total economic prize would be two to three times higher.
Lifting people out of poverty could bring up to a billion people into the consumer economy. And achieving gender equality alone could add at least $12,000bn to the world’s total GDP by 2025, according to one estimate.
“The overall prize is enormous,” the report says.
“The results will not be heaven on Earth; there will be many practical challenges.
“But the world would undoubtedly be on a better, more resilient path. We could be building an economy of abundance.