With the 21st century positioned to be all about Asia, business as usual is not going to cut it, and the need for global goals is only greater, according to a new report “Better Business, Better World Asia.”
Released by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission in partnership with Temasek and AlphaBeta, the extensive report encouraged business leaders and entrepreneurs to unlock new market opportunities worth $5 trillion that would generate 230 million jobs in Asia by 2030 through sustainable business models.
By meeting 17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health, create better jobs and tackle environmental challenges, the research argued that such efforts would lead to economic opportunities across 60 “hot spots” worth up to $12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs globally by 2030. Asia represents 40 percent of the global value, and nearly two-thirds of total jobs.
Four systems comprise the $5 trillion in estimated economic value — food and agriculture at $1 trillion, cities at $1.5 trillion, energy and minerals at $1.9 trillion and health and well-being at $670 billion.
BSDC chairman Mark Malloch-Brown noted “persistent inequality, environmental collapse and unabated climate change” pose a threat to the Asian Century. “The same ingenuity that catalysed Asia’s rise can also turn these challenges into opportunities that rewards both business and society. “Better Business, Better World Asia” shows that the continent already has the means to do so — it needs only the will to realize this $5 trillion opportunity,” he said.
Emphasizing that global goals not only benefit the environment and social challenges, but also make good business sense, BSDC member and Unilever chief executive officer Paul Polman said, “With the locus of global influence shifting East and South and with 40 percent of a $12 trillion prize at stake, the opportunities for businesses serving consumers in Asia are obvious. Strategies that sustainably meet the demands of the growing middle-class in the region, whilst at the same time tackling urgent environmental and social challenges will ultimately be successful in unlocking market value.
The global upswing in urbanization was also underlined. By 2030, 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities an increase from about 54 percent today, adding more than one billion people to cities over the next 15 years. Over the next two decades, nearly all the world’s net population growth is expected to occur in urban areas, with about 1.4 million people — a figure which represents nearly Stockholm’s population — added weekly. By 2030, more than 550 million people are expected to move to the cities in the Asia-Pacific region, where they will create more than 85 percent of GDP and bring the urban share of the population to roughly 44 percent, the report noted.
In addition to Polman, who is Unilever’s ceo, other commissioners include the Alibaba Group’s founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, Pearson’s ceo John Fallon and Women’s World Banking ceo Mary Ellen Iskenderian, among others.
The BSDC’s new report also made the point that China’s economy has grown 10 times as fast as that of the U.K. during its industrial revolution and that has affected 100 times as many people. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of Asia’s population live in countries where inequality has risen over the past 20 years. And in Asia’s middle-income countries, the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases is eroding gains made with treatments for communicable diseases. “Better Business, Better World Asia” also highlighted how “climate change threatens much of the continent, particularly its coastal cities, many of which are the region’s economic drivers. In China, the cost of biodiversity and ecosystem damage could reach 18 percent of global gross domestic product by 2050.”