Five global trends have converged to create a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty and complexity. That has companies in a quandary: They are unsure of what it all means for their business—both now and in the long term. But perhaps even more important, there are no clear clues for how they should respond.
The global development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals can serve as a guiding light. They are a framework that can help companies capitalize on the possibilities inherent in these trends while generating the societal and environmental benefits that their customers and the global community value.
Major trends are shaking up the global economy and forcing companies to find new and innovative ways to deliver value for their stakeholders:
• Shifts in global demand, from developed economies to developing ones and rural areas to cities
• Dual demographic bulge, with an aging population at one end and youth at the other
• Rise of the informed, socially conscious and increasingly demanding consumer
• Expectations for digital responsibility and proper, ethical use of personal data
• Natural resource complexity and environmental constraints, requiring the decoupling of growth from virgin resource consumption
These macro trends are difficult enough to address in isolation. Taken together, they can almost seem insurmountable. The reality is, companies need to change—significantly—to be able to grow and thrive in the coming decades. The question is, how?
• Physical Infrastructure to expand capacity and support the needs of a growing population
• Digital Infrastructure to build efficiency and eliminate redundancies in the system
• Financing and Investments that go beyond aid-flows and identify sustainable funding sources
• Partnership Models that leverage assets across multiple sectors and actors to deliver inclusive, scalable and sustainable impact
• Data to provide timely information for decision-making and relevant inputs to measure progress and accountability