Businesses Becoming Global Activists
From all corners of the world, business leaders echo the same message: societal risks need urgent action. However, some of the most pressing risks – such as youth unemployment and the global food crisis – are also where leaders see the greatest business opportunities.
Business also increasingly sees itself as a key global activist and is calling on governments to increase political will to address world risks. These findings and more are revealed in the 2016 Global Opportunity Report, released by DNV GL, the United Nations Global Compact and Monday Morning Global Institute.
The report stems from a survey of 5,567 business, governmental and social leaders across five continents.
The key findings include:
• 42 percent of the leaders consulted rate youth unemployment as today’s most pressing global risk.
• Corporate leaders see greatest business potential in getting youth in to work.
• Business leaders have faith in the technology and the economy to address societal risks, but want politicians to do more.
• Leaders see potential for new business in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations last year.
The Global Opportunity Report aims to inspire and encourage leaders to grasp the kinds of business opportunities that can help eliminate the world’s biggest risks. It complements the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report by showing the opportunity landscape beyond risks. This year, risks such as loss of ocean biodiversity, accelerating transport emissions, resistance to life-saving medicine, youth unemployment and global food crisis were transformed into 15 opportunities.
The report finds that business is a key activist, ready to join forces with civil society to tackle widespread change. It furthermore reveals that business leaders are calling on politicians to step up efforts to drive systemic change and are increasingly taking action themselves.
CEO and founder of Monday Morning Global Institute Erik Rasmussen explains: “We cannot solve the problems of today with the tools of yesterday. New opportunities are urgently needed to tackle complex issues such as youth unemployment in a world marked by jobless growth and the rise of robots.”
Leaders from both the public and private sector see smart farming as the number one opportunity, followed by possibilities in the digital labor market. Both of the top two opportunities use digital technology as a force for good.
DNV GL Group President and CEO, Remi Eriksen, says the report highlights the key role of innovative technology in many of the opportunities. “These are not future technologies – these are technologies already available to us, right now – but scaling is needed. A good example is one of this year’s opportunities, Smart Ocean. By the use of existing sensor technology and ocean traffic monitoring systems, we can observe the state of the world ocean to learn more about the marine ecosystems and utilize the opportunities it offers in a sustainable manner. With proper implementation and scaling this solution could have massive impact.
"Many of these opportunities cannot be fully realized by the scope and knowledge within one industry alone, so I strongly believe in cross-industry collaboration to combine expertise to develop future-fit solutions.”
All surveyed leaders see potential for new business in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (see below) adopted by world leaders at the United Nations last year.
Lise Kingo, Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact notes: “The new Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear and compelling direction for the future. For business, these new global goals are set to be a major driver of the markets of tomorrow and can unleash a wave of sustainable products, services and business innovations. All companies can play a role by doing business responsibly and finding opportunities for growth and innovation.”
In addition to the 5,567 leaders surveyed, over 200 experts from eight countries have shared insights and contributed to creating the Global Opportunity Report. The report identifies and ranks 15 sustainability opportunities according to public and private sector interest and potential impact on societies and business. With the new report, the partners aim to demonstrate how global sustainability challenges and risks can be seen as opportunities.
The work provides an open innovation platform where stakeholders worldwide can explore and capture sustainability opportunities and solutions across risk domains and regions. Additionally, the report identifies more than 120 readily available solutions.
The report is available here.