Is profit and sustainability possible? One organization is challenging the traditional capitalist model and paving the way for a future where business, global resources and the world’s population can progress forward together.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has a vision of a world where everyone can live fulfilling lives within the planet’s means, and a strategy to get there.
The WBCSD describes themselves as a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.
In 2010, the WBCSD created the Vision 2050 report, which calls for business to take an active role in humanity, propelling the world into a future where 9 billion people can live well within the planets resources by the middle of the century.
In the report, several essential goals are outlined, such acknowledging the value of natural resources and their inclusion into the market place, producing more agriculture using less water and land, stopping deforestation, cutting carbon emissions in half across the globe and providing access to low carbon means of transport universally.
Action 2020 is a collective compilation of 29 leading global companies from 14 industries and is the result of an 18-month long combined effort between CEOs and experts.
Action 2020 is the stepping-stone serving as a more manageable means of achieving WBCSD’s Vision 2050 plan. It lays out nine priority areas divided into six clusters that directly influence societal needs. These clusters include climate and energy, ecosystems and landscape management, safe materials and products, social impact, sustainable lifestyles and, lastly, water.
According to action2020.org, Action 2020 is setting an agenda for business to take action on sustainable development to 2020 and beyond. Action 2020 works on the idea that business can positively influence environmental and social trends while strengthening their own resilience to issues like climate change, demographic dynamics and skills shortages.
In the Action 2020 plan, each of the nine priority areas is a target to meet if the planet’s systems are to get back on track, and can only be achieved by business, government and society working together.
The priorities—climate change, release of nutrient elements, ecosystems, exposure to harmful substances, water, basic human needs and rights, skills and employment, sustainable lifestyles and food, feed, biofuels—are coined “must haves” by Action 2020 and based on scientific review led by the Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Action 2020 works by addressing the “must haves” through using sound business solutions that are impactful, scalable, measurable and replicable beyond business as usual, and by leveraging the power of business to solve problems.
The demise of global poverty cannot be accomplished with any one cure, and it will not happen overnight. But as businesses, governments and civil society partner to overcome the status quo, the end could be in sight. Action 2020 may be a catalyst for change and a leap in the right direction.
– Jason Zimmerman