The world is under severe pressure in many areas - from the way we use resources to our gas emissions to the inequalities that currently exist throughout our societies. Although these challenges are not new, we are now at a crucial stage. If we don’t find solutions to these often conflicting problems, our world will simply grind to a halt.
I’m committed to finding solutions, and I believe that businesses are powerful tools to help bring these big challenges to resolution. That’s why I recently joined the WBCSD. Together, the WBCSD’s 200+ members are galvanizing action in the global business community to create a more sustainable future.
In fact, over the last 20 years, the WBCSD has served as a major force in raising awareness globally around the theme of sustainability. Under the leadership of my predecessor, Björn Stigson, the organization has done an excellent job of creating awareness among companies to address sustainability issues.
For example, if we think back 20 years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) had hardly been invented. Ten years ago it was considered something “nice to do.” Today, if a company doesn’t have a CSR program, it cannot be successful. And it will certainly have trouble attracting talented employees—maybe even customers.
However, even if we add up all the CSR programs, all around the world, they don’t get anywhere near solving the world’s most pressing problems. We’re not even close. All the excellent programs underway need to become much more scalable in order to create a significant impact globally. And many new initiatives in the core of business need to be implemented.
As I consider the state of the world today, I see two important things. First, governments are having a difficult time focusing on the bigger issues because of short-term pressures, such as the debt crisis, elections and challenging economic times. Secondly, with their unique skills and expertise, companies are not only best placed to develop solutions, they also serve as powerful agents for change. That’s why the work of the WBCSD, its progressive members and its dedicated employees is so important.
The WBCSD’s Vision 2050 has outlined a roadmap that will enable the world’s estimated nine billion people to live well and within the planet’s resources by mid-century. Along with our members, we are currently creating concrete actions behind each element of this plan.
The next step is to mobilize these business-driven solutions into concrete actions, while continuing our awareness-building efforts. This will involve encouraging more companies to participate in sustainability programs—but also ensuring sustainable solutions receive the support they need from governments and policy makers.
I believe that businesses—now more than ever—will play a critical role in helping to resolve the world’s most pressing challenges. However, we need to look at the solutions businesses have developed and scale them up quickly. It is only then that we can truly begin to make a dent in the world’s problems—to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment.