Could Your Firm Save the Planet, and Perform 20% Better Whilst Doing So?

While business has contributed to the mass destruction of our resources, it also holds the key to the solutions. Therefore, the call to business is necessary as corporations are in fact some of the largest economies in the world, transcending borders with far-reaching influence.

Marga Hoek, author of new book The Trillion Dollar Shift the first-ever book on the opportunities SDGs open up for business – talks CEO Today through the unforeseen business benefits of trying to save the planet.

It’s been over two years since the course was set to a better world via the Paris Agreement and the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement were, in addition to a call on governments, a message from and for the business and capital world. And the message is clear: businesses and capital must aim to create a positive impact on all the assets of the world. They must contribute to developing an economy that is here for the world, and leave behind the exploitation of a world serving the economy.

Responsible business models are good for the world and they can open many opportunities as well. There is simply no reason not to incorporate the SDGs in business and capital strategies, innovations, products and services throughout the supply chains.

At a business level, there is every reason to engage with the SDGs. Business for good is good business, as business and capital can have a positive impact on the SDGs, while improving their competitiveness. Through the SDGs new markets, worth up to US $12 trillion, can be unlocked by 2030. Returns on sustainable business cases are getting better by the year or even the month, with businesses working against climate change performing almost 20% better than their peers. In this context, not engaging with the SDGs becomes the risk, especially since customers and employees will demand that companies be part of the solutions, rather than the problem. Markets are changing radically, and products and services that do not create real value will soon be phased out. Since the scale of our collective solutions must meet the scale of our Goals, businesses need to find inspiration to venture beyond the comfort zone, and explore new ways to create profitable business cases while also safeguarding and positively impacting people and the environment.

It is increasingly clear that the way forward on our journey towards 2030 needs to use the power of business as leverage to grow a stable, sustainable global economy and society. Consider that business corporations account for many of the largest economies operating around the world. Many corporations have a balance sheet outranking countries’ GDPs. And consider the investment potential of private capital which is a much larger percentage than public investment potential by now, as the percentage of total capital flows of donor countries’ ODAs into emerging markets has decreased, while private capital flows have increased and grown. Last but not least, consider the power of business needed to safeguard consistency in policy, as business was crucial to creating the Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, and is equally important to maintain them.

It is increasingly clear that the way forward on our journey towards 2030 needs to use the power of business as leverage to grow a stable, sustainable global economy and society.

Let’s engage business in a new purpose. A business that embeds the Goals into the heart of companies, strives to not only serve its own goals, but the Global Goals at the same time. Since there is no business if there is no planet, there are also no business opportunities in a world of exponentially growing risks, increasing poverty, climate change, and resource scarcity. Wise leaders understand this and know that navigating towards the Goals means safeguarding the planet and its inhabitants, and securing a sustainable business and economic future. The growth of business for good incorporates a new meaning of growth which we must embrace, disconnecting negative impact from growth, and connecting growth with a positive impact on the world.

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