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New Study Forecasts to the Year 2027, Asks - Are Globalization and Sustainable Development on a Collision Course?

New Study Forecasts to the Year 2027, Asks - Are Globalization and Sustainable Development on a Collision Course?

Published 06-06-00

Submitted by SustainAbility

June 5, 2007 - In a blunt assessment of the business operating context in 2027 – sponsored by Shell, Ford, Novo Nordisk, Vodafone, The Skoll Foundation and others – SustainAbility, Ltd., reports that not only will there be new rules for sustaining business success over the next twenty years, but that "the game itself is poised to change profoundly. There will be winners and losers; but there is no more business as usual."

More than two years in the making, Raising Our Game: Can We Sustain Globalization was released in London and D.C. last week and in Berlin today, and will be discussed at upcoming events in Sao Paolo on June 12, and New York, June 26-28.

The authors are from SustainAbility, widely known as the leading consultancy to the world's major multinationals on corporate responsibility and sustainability. It exposes the interplay of sustainable development and globalization that will define the future. "Navigating this terrain will challenge the global business community like nothing previously experienced," said co-author John Elkington.

The study depicts four alternate scenarios for the year 2027 in a card game format, where clubs, hearts, diamonds, and spades represent various combinations of environmental and societal wins and losses.

"Grounded in the hard realities that business and policy leaders face now and through 2027, Raising Our Game is neither a starry-eyed look at a rosy future, nor a "chicken little" prediction of inevitable calamity," said Jonathan Halperin, SustainAbility's Director of Research and Advocacy in Washington. "It is about the hard choices we face, and what they mean for us all down the road. As the stakes rise, innovation, entrepreneurship, and effectively sourcing ideas and talent from emerging economies will be essential to managing the worsening divides that now threaten global stability." These threats are catalogued in section three of the report.

The executive summary of Raising Our Game is below, and for the full report visit the following link:

Raising Our Game: Can We Sustain Globalization?

Executive Summary

Interactions between the complexities of globalization and the evolving sustainability agenda will define markets and politics in the 21st century. This report reviews some of the key recent trends driving – and driven by - globalization. It looks at where these processes are likely to take us over the next two decades, and their implications for the corporate responsibility and sustainable development agenda.

Globalization – that is the freer movement of goods, services, ideas, and people around the world – is not a new phenomenon but has massively accelerated over the last two decades with 20% of the world GDP now being contributed by global trade. This acceleration has been driven by the opening up of new markets, the rapid evolution of technology and global connectivity, the growing prominence of developing countries, and the great surge in the number and reach of multinational businesses.

Today's globalized world has particular attributes: interconnected global financial markets with positive and negative consequences; unprecedented urbanization reflecting powerful underlying trends associated with the way people earn a living; growing divides and potentially explosive disparities between the rich and poor; challenges to diversity – in its biological, ecological, human, and social forms; climate and environmental insecurity; governance vacuums; and blessed unrest – the proliferation of networks dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice.

New players are surging onto the globalization field. China and India with their impressive growth rates are powerfully influencing commodity markets and global trade, and catapulting new South–South trade relationships onto the global stage. Other emerging economies – like Brazil and South Africa – although not in the same league, are playing ever important regional and global roles. As their economic influence grows, developing countries are also trying to shift the rules of globalization in their favor. The economic growth has major sustainability consequences. China, India, Brazil, and Russia are collectively already responsible for 30% of global CO2 emissions.

While opportunities flourish, divides based on demographics, wealth, gender, nutrition, health, environmental resources, education, information, security, and governance continue to persist and in many cases worsen.

How will these trends play out? The report outlines a set of scenarios to visualize how the future might unfold.

As with most scenarios, it is likely that elements of each of them will emerge in different regions at different times, but together they point to six dimensions of the G.A.M.B.L.E. agenda:

  • Economic growth will continue but will need to be contained within a 'one planet' agenda.



  • There will be a continued acceleration in the scale and speed of events and decision-making – from business cycles to environmental impacts.



  • The sustainable development agenda – or at least key components of it such as climate change and human rights – will continue to be mainstreamed into market and political systems.



  • But the agenda will continue to encounter a bewildering array of social, cultural, ecological, and even psychological barriers.



  • The importance of leadership will be further emphasized and will likely emerge from unexpected directions including from newly emergent city-states, NGOs and companies.



  • Finally, equity will re-emerge as a fundamental principle, and a precondition of a more sustainable world.

    Finally, the report concludes with seven recommendations to business and the wider sustainability movement:

    1. Plan for the unexpected – in a world that is accelerating and becoming more complex, it will be vital to build in flexibility whether in technology platforms, supply-chains, or human resource policies.


    2. Find true South – the extent to which the interests of the emerging economies will clash with those of the developed North can scarcely be exaggerated. So focus sustainability efforts and investments on regions and cities where the population is booming and development needs are highest.

    3. Don't expect nice companies to come first – Even the best corporate citizens can be damaged by scandals, controversies, and economic discontinuities. Over time the capacity to create true blended value will become a defining characteristic of tomorrow’s successful global businesses.

    4. Co-evolve Earth's immune system – Social and ecological shocks are already catalyzing the development of a civil-society-led ‘immune system’ for the Earth. Be part of this to help accelerate its development and serve as a source of market intelligence – and creation.

    5. Think opportunity – and innovation – Reframe social and environmental issues not just as risks but also as sizeable market opportunities.

    6. S-t-r-e-t-c-h – The scale of the challenges is immense and will require radical approaches to catalyze breakthrough solutions. Business and other leaders will need to reach beyond their comfort zones in finding new models, new technologies, and new partners in sourcing – and scaling – solutions.

    7. Do the politics – This agenda is now political. Get involved and take stands. The time has come for the vision, courage, innovation, and enterprise needed to leapfrog into a different world.

    The time has come for us all to raise our eyes, our ambitions, our game.

    To see full copy of the report, visit the following link


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