In the last 30 years, the world has experienced significant economic and social progress. However, many of the past drivers of change, such as the use of cheap fossil fuels and extensive consumption and production, are no longer sustainable with the current economic model.
New challenges are threatening future social and financial stability, and urgent actions need to be taken. The increasing occurrences of natural disasters, including flooding and drought cause financial loss and jeopardize food security. In addition, fragile ecosystems with decreasing biodiversity exacerbates economic and financial shocks, nurturing insecurity and conflicts.
To tackle these global challenges we face, the United Nations established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) with 169 sub targets, in 2015. These goals, which aimed to be reached by 2030, cover crucial matters, such as poverty, inequality, climate change and environmental degradation, as well as peace and justice. Concrete goals comprise eradicating malaria, development of solar panels or more accessible public transport. Initially, they were intended as government and intergovernmental initiatives, but it has become increasingly clear that businesses are a vital catalyst in achieving these objectives. These goals must be seen through the lens of business opportunity because “the Global Goals need business, and business needs the Global Goals”.
The Business and Sustainable Development Commission estimates that these goals represent a market opportunity of at least $12 trillion by 2030 1 . With tighter regulations on sustainability, such as the Green Deal in Europe, and shifts in consumers’ preferences and awareness, this could be potentially 2 to 3 times more. Consumers have growing expectations for companies to contribute positively to society and the environment by adjusting their activities. As responsible investors, La Française seeks to invest in companies which are taking the lead and contributing to a better world.
FROM A UNIVERSAL GOAL TO A MARKET OPPORTUNITY
As previously mentioned, the 17 SDGs were initially adopted to apply to countries. It is therefore not surprising to see companies consider these goals out of their scope or difficult to integrate into their corporate strategy. In this paper, we will present the link between the SDGs and business by describing several identified megatrends of the future.
Demography is a crucial megatrend: the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion in the next 30 years, reaching a total of 9.7 billion by 2050 2 . Although population growth isn’t itself an issue, it puts additional pressure on the health service and food system. Since the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, there have been historic achievements with respect to global health, such as reduced child mortality. However, the rate of improvement has slowed down.
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