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No trumped-up proposal for a sustainable world

LONDON: January 16, 2017: As Donald Trump continues his social media ejaculations against multinational corporate employers, 35 CEOs and civil society leaders say sustainable business models can create 380 million jobs and US$12 trillion in additional economic activity by 2030.

However it won't happen without a radical change in attitude from the business and investment communities, according to a report from the Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

"Real leadership is needed for the private sector to become a trusted partner in working with government and civil society to fix the [global] economy," say the commissioners who include Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching; Women's World Banking CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian; Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman, The Alibaba Group; Daniel Pinto, Corporate & Investment Bank CEO JP Morgan Chase; and Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

Business  Sustainable Development CommissionThe Commission claims that while globalization has lifted "hundreds of millions out of poverty", it has also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, more debt and greater environmental risks. This has resulted in an anti-globalization movement championed - at least in the U.S. - by the self-brand marketeer and reality TV personality Donald Trump.

In a bid to dispel rising levels of xenophobia, the new report reveals 60 sustainable and inclusive market "hotspots" in four key economic areas that could create a 10 percent increase in global GDP over the next 10-15 years: Energy US$4.3 trillion; Cities: US$3.7 trillion; Food & Agriculture US$2.3 trillion; Health & Well-being US$1.8 trillion.

Beyond the US$12 trillion directly estimated, conservative analysis shows potential for an additional US$8 trillion of value creation across the wider economy, according to the report: "We are on the edge and business as usual will drive more political opposition and land us with an economy that simply doesn't work for enough people," explained former UN deputy secretary-general and Commission chairman Mark Malloch-Brown. "We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth," he added.

The Commission's study is based on implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - 17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle key environmental challenges by 2030. "At a time when our economic model is pushing the limits of our planetary boundaries and condemning many to a future without hope, the [UN] SDGs offer us a way out," said Polman.

While it notes the future opportunities are compelling, the Commission's report says two critical conditions must be met to realize them: First, innovative financing from both private and public sources will be needed to unlock the US$2.4 trillion needed annually; and second a "new social contract" between business, government and society must be established to define the role of business in a new, fairer economy.

"The promise of the [SDGs] and the Paris Climate Agreement is a zero-carbon, zero-poverty world," said Sharan Burrow, Commission member and general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation: "We need to rebuild trust. A new social contract for business where people, their environment and economic development are rebalanced can ensure that everybody's sons and daughters are respected with freedom of association, minimum living wages, collective bargaining and safe work assured.

"Only a new business model based on old principles of human rights and social justice will support a sustainable future," she added.

The report can be downloaded: http://report.businesscommission.org/report

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