Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managing Sustainably: Scanning the Future

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managing Sustainably: Scanning the Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Neilson

Business as usual will come to an end in the next 40 years. But this is likely to create vast opportunities for New Zealand business. How can this be?

Just 40 years from now, some 30 percent more people will be living on this planet. For business, the good news is that this growth will deliver billions of new consumers who want homes and cars and television sets.

The bad news is that unchanging resources and potentially changing climates will limit the ability of all nine billion of us to attain or maintain the "big footprint" lifestyle that is commensurate with wealth in today's affluent markets.

Twenty nine global companies representing 14 industries tackled this dilemma in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Vision 2050 project, published last year.

This year the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development will draw together chief executives from at least 50 leading companies nationwide, plus other executives, to apply to the Vision 2050 framework. Joining them will be members of a "future leaders" group of executives aged 35 or under, already established by the Business Council. They will most likely still be living in 38 years' time -- when the scenarios are being played out for real.

Vision 2050 puts the world on track towards being sustainable by 2050 -- with nine billion people "living well" and within the resources of the planet, having followed a critical pathway which includes:

* Addressing the development needs of billions of people, enabling education and economic empowerment, particularly of women, and developing radically more eco-efficient solutions, lifestyles and behaviour.

* Incorporating the cost of externalities, starting with carbon, ecosystem services and water.

* Doubling agricultural output without increasing the amount of land or water used.

* Halting deforestation and increasing yields from planted forests.

* Halving carbon emissions worldwide (based on 2005 levels) by 2050, with greenhouse gas emissions peaking around 2020 through a shift to low-carbon energy systems and highly improved demand-side energy efficiency.

* Providing universal access to low carbon mobility. …

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