In 2015, the world is standing at a crossroads. If we continue to follow the current path of unsustainable human activity, we could wake up on a much less hospitable planet in 2050. Unsustainable development is threatening human wellbeing – affecting all parts of the world, low and high HDI countries alike.
2015 is also the year of political decisions. This year, the UN will adopt the Sustainable Development Goals in September to be the global agenda for action for the coming fifteen years. In November, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) will be held in Paris with the goal of finding a global agreement on combating climate change.
The opportunity mindset
At the Global Opportunity Network, we are working to identify the opportunities that will put societies globally on a path to a more sustainable and livable future. The project kicked off last year. Today, we are able to present the Global Opportunity Report, which turns five global risks into 15 opportunities to address them.
We want to inspire change agents to take on a new mindset. Only focusing on risk mitigation alone will take us nowhere. An opportunity mindset looks at what you, I, and businesses can do together to change the world. We do this by showing that behind every risk hides a set of opportunities. The opportunities are developed in multistakeholder dialogues through processes of co-creation around the world. We take five different global risks as starting points for the conversations. In the next four weeks, we will travel to eight global cities to meet with 250 innovators and thought leaders.
The risk line-up for this year has now been released. The selection of risks is based on the following criteria: they must be global scale, systemic, actionable and timely. This year, we have selected the following risks:
Resistance to lifesaving medicine
We are entering a post-antibiotic era, where common infections and minor injuries can kill because the drugs do not work anymore. Antibiotics are in the meat that we eat, leak into drinking water and are overused by doctors. They are everywhere and are effectively losing their power.
Global food crisis
Today there is enough food for everyone on the planet, but still 840 million people go to bed hungry every day. Thirty to fifty percent of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. In 2050, the world has to feed nine billion people in a warmer world with lower yields.
Accelerating transport emissions
Seven out of eight urban citizens breathe air that fails to meet WHO safe levels. Transport is mainly to blame, however, societies need mobility of people and goods to function and develop.
Loss of ocean biodiversity
Uncontrolled seas – the majority of the high seas is common territory. Nobody owns it and nobody protects it. Three billion people depend on protein from fish, but global ocean biodiversity is suffering due to pollution from land and ocean activities.
A generation wasted
Youth all over the world are joining the ranks of the unemployed. Almost a quarter of the planet’s youth are neither working nor studying. Jobless growth is now a global reality for the next generation.
The job description for the world
The world has agreed on seventeen sustainable development goals to guide policy and action for the coming fifteen years. The adoption in September in New York will be a historical moment. The goals will be the job description for each and every one of us on this planet. But there are still some blanks to be filled out in this job description. The goals are political aspirations, now we need to understand how to get there. And we need to develop more concrete answers as to how business can contribute. The global opportunity report will provide some of these answers.