Image: Valeriano Di Domenico/World Economic Forum Image: Valeriano Di Domenico/World Economic Forum

Things could either descend into a very nasty economics mess, or we can end poverty? Which one would you prefer?

The Business & Sustainable Development Commission has released a report, to coincide with the latest World Economist Forum at Davos, and the inauguration of President Trump outlining how the global economy could see an additional $12 trillion worth of growth by 2030, creating 380 million jobs, and, just as importantly, do so in a sustainable way, grappling with the issues of climate change.

The Business & Sustainable Development Commission, which counts as its members more than 35 CEOs and civil society leaders, has sent out a call to action. You can summarise it as an attempt to save the world.

It is also an attempt to save globalisation and fight back against the forces of nationalism.

The economy is broken but there is a fix

Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission said: "This report is a call to action to business leaders. We are on the edge and business as usual will drive more political opposition and land us with an economy that simply doesn't work for enough people. We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth.”

He argued that creating a more sustainable economic system isn’t just good for moral reasons, for helping society and the planet, but is good business, too.

To cite from the report, it reveals “60 sustainable and inclusive market ‘hotspots’ in just four key economic areas, could create at least US$12 trillion, worth over 10 per cent of today’s GDP.”

The four key areas are:

  • Energy, which could contribute US$4.3 trillion
  • Cities: which could contribute US$3.7 trillion
  • Food & Agriculture – US$2.3 trillion
  • Health & Well-being – US$1.8 trillion.
The report said that the global hot spots identified in the report have the potential to grow 2-3 time faster than average GDP.

A new hope?

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, and a commissioner said: "At a time when our economic model is pushing the limits of our planetary boundaries and condemning many to a future without hope, the Sustainable Development Goals offer us a way out. Many are now realising the enormous opportunities that exist for enlightened businesses willing to stand up and address these urgent challenges. But every day that passes is another lost opportunity for action. We must react quickly, decisively and collectively to ensure a fairer and more prosperous world for all.”

Critical conditions

But the report says that for all this to happen, two critical conditions must be met. It says: “First, innovative financing from both private and public sources will be needed to unlock the US$2.4 trillion required annually to achieve the Global Goals.”

Second: a “new social contract” between business, government and society is essential to defining the role of business in a new, fairer economy."

Mark Malloch-Brown was quoted in the Independent saying; “Don’t throw globalisation out with the bath water as Trump and some components of the UKIP unit of the Brexiteers appear to have done. But instead embrace globalisation 2.0, or whatever you’d call it, where there is a much greater attention to issues of equality, poverty reduction and sustainability.”

Globalisation versus nationalism

He said: “The new dividing line of 21st century politics is going to be globalists versus nationalists.”