From risk to opportunity in the blink of an eye
The future outlook is not what it used to be. Natural systems can no longer cope with the waste from an economy built on linear consumption. Yet we live in a moment in time where we have a unique opportunity to change things for the better. In fact we may be the first generation that is able to understand the complex and systemic challenges surrounding us. Which means we know where we are headed if we do not change course. We are standing at a crossroads in the history of time. One where we must abandon our inclination to focus on risk – and start embracing the opportunities for a sustainable and prosperous society. This is the backdrop for the Global Opportunity Report, which DNV GL, Monday Morning and the UN Global Compact launched today in Zurich, ahead of the World Economic Forum.
Leaders from all parts of society, whether from business, politics, academia or NGOs, have one common responsibility – to build resilient and sustainable societies.
In order to get there, we need to break the link between the pursuit of human ambition and the depletion of the natural environment. We need to reinvent growth and harness the power of global business to create a new way of growing; one fit for human reality in the 21st century. But first we need to shift to a new strategic mindset. To achieve this, we all need the same tool – the ability to spot the opportunities for sustainability and prosperity in an ever-changing and turbulent world.
The Global Opportunity Report offers the first steps towards that – a global guide to the opportunities for building a safe and sustainable future. The 2015 release is the first initiative towards developing a complete GPS system for global change-makers, enabling them to move quickly and safely in a complex, fragile and uncertain environment. It is based on the belief that the difference between a risk and an opportunity is how soon you discover it. The Global Opportunity Report aspires to make that difference.
With the report, the initiators DNV GL, the UN Global Compact and the Scandinavian innovation tank Monday Morning wish to promote a new mindset for global business – a mindset that helps explore new ventures for sustainable development. The report offers a new perspective on the rising global sustainability challenges. Where others see risks, the report reflects a different scenario: we have never had more opportunities at hand.
Economic and social game changers
Close to 7000 thought leaders, change makers and experts from all parts of the world have taken part in co-creating the report. Together they have proven how five major global risks (lack of fresh water, unsustainable urbanization, continued lock-in to fossil fuels, non-communicable diseases, and extreme weather) can be turned into 15 opportunities. Opportunities that serve as economic and social game-changers for a safe and sustainable future.
The confidence in the opportunities has been tested in a survey of more than 6000 leaders from the public and private sector around the world. Based on this, the Global Opportunity Report provides an updated insight into the key drivers of a new solutions economy, including an indication as to what countries and sectors seem to have the most innovative mind sets – and who lags behind. Furthermore, the report provides insights into how different business sectors prioritize the opportunities, and which parts of the population place the greatest confidence in our opportunities for a safe and sustainable future.
Our results clearly show that China and India rank top in spotting sustainability opportunities, while Europe ranks last. Business is more positive than public sector, and younger generations are more positive than the older (the full report is now out and can be read at www.globalopportunitynetwork.org)
There have never been more opportunities
A report in itself will not lead to a shift. We hope, however, that this report represents the first step in a journey towards an international innovation platform. One where we continuously translate global risks and challenges into new opportunities – opportunities for new and inclusive types of growth and better living conditions for all.
We also hope that today’s launch in Zurich will provide useful and constructive input and contributions to the World Economic Forum discussions which convene in Davos this week, gathering some 2500 international business leaders and change-makers from all over the world.
Reflecting on the nature of crisis, President Kennedy once remarked that “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
We believe the time is right to make a shift from the traditional risk society to a more solution and opportunity based economy. Global risks and challenges have never been bigger or more daunting. The same is true for the opportunities.
Key Findings in the Global Opportunity Report and Survey:
- China and India rank top in spotting sustainability opportunities, Europe ranks bottom
- Manufacturing and Finance are the most positive sectors, public sector the least
- Strong confidence in handling water-related challenges
- No opportunity suits all – all regions see different opportunities
- Younger generations are markedly more optimistic than the older
- Report reveals top-ranked opportunities for society and business:
Most promising opportunities for society:
- Water efficient agriculture: Agriculture consumes 70 per cent of the fresh water used today. A combination of traditional water management and new technology can reduce that and improve crop yields dramatically. Addresses risk: Lack of Fresh Water.
- Everyday Health Enablers: Making it easier and cheaper to choose the healthy option when buying groceries, choosing how to transport yourself or how to do your work, allows people to live healthier, more productive lives. Addresses risk: Continued Rise in NCDs (Non-communicable Diseases)
- Fresh Water Production: In arid regions water efficiency is crucial, but supplementing natural water resources with purified or desalinated water can meet the growing needs. Addresses risk: Lack of Fresh Water.
- Everyday Health Enablers: See description above
- Smart Cities: Using advances in sensor technology and Big Data analytics, exiting city infrastructure can be utilized more efficiently for safer, greener and more liveable cities. Addresses the risk: Unsustainable Urbanization
- Energy Autonomy: Advances in distributed renewable energy generation allows off grid areas quick access to electricity. In areas with established energy grids, the same technology allows home owners or companies to save money and make their own clean energy.