January 16, 2017

Sustainable Business can unlock at least US$12 trillion in new business

A new report reveals that sustainable business models could open economic opportunities worth at least US$12 trillion and up to 380 million jobs a year by 2030. Putting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at the heart of the world’s economic strategy could unleash a step-change in growth and productivity, with an investment boom in sustainable infrastructure as a critical driver.

The report Better Business, Better World was launched by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission today. The Commission recognises that while the last few decades have lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, they have also led to unequal growth, increasing job insecurity, ever more debt and ever greater environmental risks. This mix has fueled an anti-globalisation reaction in many countries, with business and financial interests seen as central to the problem, and is undermining the long-term economic growth that the world needs.

At the heart of the Commission’s argument are the SDGs - 17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030. The Commission believes the SDGs provide the private sector with a new growth strategy that opens valuable market opportunities while creating a world that is both sustainable and inclusive. And the potential rewards for doing so are significant.

Sustainable Development Goals

“With 800 million people hungry, a  growing population, and food production putting increased pressure on the climate, the Sustainable Development Goals are our wake-up call and our framework for strategy, said Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara and member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

The Commission has spent the last year exploring a central question: What will it take for business to be central to building a sustainable market economy—one that can help to deliver the SDGs? Better Business, Better World—the release of which is timed with the World Economist Forum in Davos and the U.S. presidential inauguration—shows how.

“This report is a call to action to business leaders. 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. We have to switch tracks to a business model that works for a new kind of inclusive growth,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. “Better Business, Better World shows there is a compelling incentive for why the latter isn’t just good for the environment and society; it makes good business sense.”

Throughout 2017, the Commission will focus on working with companies to strengthen corporate alignment with the SDGs, including: mentoring the next generation of sustainable development leaders; creating sectorial roadmaps and league tables that rank corporate performance against the Global Goals; and supporting measures to unlock blended finance for sustainable infrastructure investment.

To read the full report visit Better Business, Better World website.


The Business and Sustainable Development Commission was launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016. It brings together leaders from business, finance, civil society, labour, and international organisations, with the twin aims of mapping the economic prize that could be available to companies if the Global Goals are achieved, and describing how they can contribute to achieving them.