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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : May/June 2002 : Headlines

Headlines

Global Trends Reshape Business Strategies
New report links global economic, environmental and social indicators to market development.

Businesses that wish to survive and thrive in a global economy must respond to major social and environmental trends that are reshaping markets, says a report released in April by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). Backed with facts and figures, the new report outlines 19 powerful trends that are reshaping global markets and changing the roles and strategies of corporations.

“Tomorrow’s Market: Global Trends and Their Implications for Business” links global economic, environmental and social indicators to market development in order to help businesses better respond to future challenges. The report reflects the rising interest in using market solutions to address some of the world’s most pressing problems such as population, wealth, nutrition, health, education, consumption, energy, emissions, efficiency, ecosystems, agriculture, freshwater, urbanization, mobility, communications, labor, democracy, accountability and privatization.

“This report emphasizes global trends that will help business leaders better understand the interrelationships between environment and development issues, and, in turn, respond more effectively to the enormous challenges before us,” said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP executive director. Since the world economy depends on a base of natural resources that is being severely degraded, reducing consumption and waste creates new opportunities for businesses to grow through the innovation of less wasteful processes and with life-enhancing goods and services, he added.

In his preface to “Tomorrow’s Markets,” Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter, a leading authority on competitive strategy and international competitiveness, writes, “Not only can corporate and social needs be integrated, but the success of the developing world in improving prosperity is of fundamental strategic importance to almost every company. The world economy is not a zero sum game in which one country’s success comes at the expense of others. There is enormous potential for growth if many countries can improve in productivity and trade with one another. There are huge unsatisfied human needs to be met in the world, and demand will only increase as more nations become prosperous.”

“This report will provide companies with information to identify the fundamental signals that influence their future success and drive their innovation,” said Björn Stigson, WBCSD president. He added that developing economies will present companies with new market opportunities to help meet health, education and nutrition needs.

The report is divided into five categories:

  • People and Tomorrow’s Markets
  • Innovation
  • Natural Capital
  • Connections
  • Roles and Responsibilities

“Tomorrow’s Markets” argues that future markets will favor businesses that partner with government and civil society groups to serve basic needs, enhance human skills, increase economic capacity and help remedy inequities.

“The challenge of the future is to choose a course that satisfies the market requirements for growth, maintains the natural balance that sustains our economies, and meets the needs and rights of global communities awakening to new dreams of health, prosperity and peace,” said Jonathan Lash, WRI president.

Copies of the report are available on-line at: www.wbcsd.org.


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