Leading multinational companies set urgent action agenda for all people to live well, within planetary boundaries
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and more than 40 of its members, all major global companies, lay out “Vision 2050: Time to Transform”, with nine pathways to action across industries to ensure a more sustainable and prosperous future.
The world faces three critical challenges: the climate emergency, nature loss and mounting inequality. 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 the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a CEO-led organization of over 200 leading companies.
Time to Transform sets a shared vision of a world in which more than 9 billion people are able to live well, within planetary boundaries, by 2050. To achieve this vision, we need transformation at scale, and business needs to focus its actions on the areas through which it can best lead the systems transformations.
Time to Transform maps how systems transform and lays out a new framework to guide business action in the decade ahead. 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 wellbeing; 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. Each of the nine transformation pathways contains ten action areas for the decade ahead, designed to help companies drive transformative change in their strategies, business operations and impact on society.
To move beyond business-as-usual into the accelerated transformations necessary, business leaders must adopt three mindset shifts: reinventing capitalism that rewards true value creation; focusing on building long-term resilience; and taking a regenerative approach beyond doing no harm.
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.
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 decarbonize; materials need to go circular; food needs to be produced sustainably and equitably and provide healthy diets”, said WBCSD President and CEO Peter 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.”
The report’s foreword, signed by 42 top executives from WBCSD member companies, makes a collective call to global business, stressing: “Business can lead. Business can forge the collaborations required to drive change. It can… but more than that, it must. It is in business’s interest to pursue the transformations set out in Vision 2050 – because its long-term success depends on thriving societies to trade with, and a healthy planet for us all to exist on.”
The launch of Vision 2050 follows the announcement in October 2020, that WBCSD, together with members, raised the bar of business commitment to sustainability through a set of new criteria put forward as part of WBCSD’s membership conditions. The new criteria also focus on the top three priority sustainability challenges that our society faces: climate emergency, nature loss and inequality.
Additionally, WBCSD expects its member companies to strive to the highest standards in corporate governance and transparency, aimed at enhancing the comparability of data for investors and other stakeholders. Over the coming months and years, WBCSD will continue working together with its members and partners to realize the required transformations and “getting sustainability done”.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought vulnerabilities to the surface, underscoring just how fragile and interdependent many of our most vital systems are. Despite its enormous human and financial cost, the pandemic has also created an opportunity to drive and accelerate change at a completely different pace. We now have a unique but rapidly closing window of opportunity for action – it is time to transform our businesses and societies.” Nadir Godrej – Managing Director, Godrej Industries Limited