The world faces three critical challenges of climate emergency, nature loss and mounting inequality, calling for a collective fight to turn this around, according to a global report brought out by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) based in Geneva.

The Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated that these challenges are interconnected, and that our systems are ill-prepared for shocks. As global risks continue to build, business leaders are rallying behind a bold and urgent transformation agenda developed by WBCSD, a CEO-led organisation of over 200 leading companies.

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Vision 2050: Time to Transform should not be read with the idea that tomorrow is going to be much the same as today. This is a report for change, starting now, outlining how business needs to play a leading role. We have no time to waste. Achieving this vision requires a wholesale transformation of everything we have grown up with: energy needs to de-carbonise; materials need to go circular; food needs to be produced sustainably and equitably and provide healthy diets,” WBCSD President and CEO, Peter Bakker, said.

Interacting with BusinessLine over a Zoom call from Geneva today, he said, “as we work towards this agenda, Cop 26 to be held at Glasgow this year on Climate Change has an aggressive agenda set by the British Government, which includes focus on nature and inequalities.”

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By 2050, the world will have a population of over 9 billion people and the focus should be on equitable development. The Covid pandemic has exposed our vulnerability and has only further increased the divide in terms of inequalities between northern and southern hemispheres and also within the developed nations, he said.

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Transformation pathways

At the heart of this framework are nine transformation pathways — actionable routes for companies to take — covering the areas of business activity that are essential to society: energy; transportation and mobility; living spaces; products and materials; financial products and services; connectivity; health and well-being; water and sanitation; and food.

The vision and transformation pathways are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets of the Paris Agreement.

While business can take a leading role, it must work on and design systems transformations, together with scientists, policy makers, financiers and investors, innovators and consumers. Only collaboration at unprecedented levels will create the impact and speed needed to achieve all people living well within planetary boundaries by 2050, said Bakker.

“Our future depends on transformation. One of the keys to success will be a mindset shift around capitalism. Our economic systems, incentives, global accounting standards and capital market valuations can no longer just be based on the financial performance of businesses: we must integrate our impact on people and planet as part of how we define success and determine enterprise value,” he said.

The report’s foreword, signed by 42 top executives from WBCSD member companies, makes a collective call to global businesses to drive change.