Global supply chains, digital media and connected devices are making our planet feel smaller and smaller. However, they can sometimes also make the world’s challenges seem bigger than ever. While the middle class is growing worldwide, many people are still living in poverty, working in poor conditions and struggling to build a future for themselves. Alongside this, the global population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and humankind’s environmental footprint is already larger than our planet’s resources can sustain. That’s why it’s so important to create shared value – through innovative products and technologies that improve quality of life for people and communities, while also cutting the amount of resources consumed when making and using products.
What role do global businesses play?
Companies are in a strong position to create shared value. Alongside payments in the form of salaries and taxes, businesses contribute to promoting economic and social development as employers, purchasers and investors. They can also accelerate the transformation to a sustainable economy by creating innovative technologies and products. Imagine the resources that could be saved if every product in every home used less energy or water. Or imagine the reduction in CO2 emissions if every vehicle on the planet was lighter and used less fuel. Resource-efficient solutions can improve the balance between the economic, ecological and social needs of people and the planet – and open up pathways to a sustainable future.
Along global value chains
Businesses are also partnering with governments and non-governmental organizations to support projects that improve income opportunities for people who come into contact with their supply chains – wherever they are in the world. The international development organization Solidaridad, for example, is teaming up with companies to support smallholder farmers of crops like oil palm. This empowers farmers to increase productivity and meet rising expectations for safety and environmental sustainability. It also ensures employment stability and improves livelihoods for workers and their families.
Working together is the most effective method of creating shared value. That’s why companies and organizations from across industries are joining forces to encourage social progress and reduce the environmental impact of our modern way of life. The Plastic Bank is just one strong example: It’s a social enterprise that aims to stop ocean plastic and provide opportunities for people in poverty by giving them a chance to earn money or services by removing plastic waste from the environment. The plastic collected is sorted, processed and made available for recycling.
The earth’s resources are becoming more precious than ever, while the global challenges we face seem to grow all the time. It’s possible to find and implement solutions to these challenges – and to open up opportunities – but only if businesses and other organizations work together to create shared value while consuming less resources. By entering into strong partnerships and supporting initiatives like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, we can accelerate this transformation and develop innovative products and technologies that improve quality of life for people and communities, while also protecting the future of our planet.