The WBCSD’s cornerstone Vision 2050 report calls for a new agenda for business laying out a direction to a world in which nine billion people can live well, and within the planet’s resources, by mid-century. Under the Vision 2050 project, 29 WBCSD member companies developed a vision of a world well on the way to sustainability by 2050, and a pathway leading to that world – one that will require fundamental changes in governance structures, economic frameworks, business and human behavior. It emerged that these changes are necessary, feasible and offer tremendous business opportunities for companies that turn sustainability into strategy.
Vision 2050 addresses three questions: What does a sustainable world look like? How can we realize it? What are the roles business can play in ensuring more rapid progress toward that world?
Given the megatrends of climate change, global population growth and urbanization, and given the best efforts of business, governments and society, Vision 2050 is a picture of the best possible outcome for the human population and the planet it lives on over the next four decades. In a nutshell, that outcome would be a planet of around 9 billion people, all living well – with enough food, clean water, sanitation, shelter, mobility, education and health to make for wellness – within the limits of what this small, fragile planet can supply and renew, every day.
The report features a set of agreed must haves. They represent vital developments that the report’s stakeholders hope organizations will consider putting in place within the next decade, to help ensure a steady course towards global sustainability is set. Ultimately, they are intended to provide a springboard for dialogue and debate.
Must haves include:
- Incorporating the costs of externalities, starting with carbon, ecosystem services and water, into the structure of the marketplace;
- Doubling agricultural output without increasing the amount of land or water used;
- Halting deforestation and increasing yields from planted forests;
- Halving carbon emissions worldwide (based on 2005 levels) by 2050 through a shift to low-carbon energy systems;
- Improved demand-side energy efficiency, and providing universal access to low-carbon mobility.
Business-as-usual cannot get us to sustainability or secure economic and social prosperity; these can be achieved only through radical change, starting now. To play its role, business will still need to do what business does best: innovate, adapt, collaborate and execute. These activities will change along with the partnerships that we form with other businesses, governments, academia and non-governmental organizations in order to get it right for all.
Vision 2050, with its best-case scenario for sustainability and pathways for reaching it, is a tool for thought leadership and a platform for beginning the dialogue that must take place to navigate the challenging years to come.