“Green shift” in industries could save $2 trillion for major world economies – WEF

Up to $2 trillion could be saved through resource-efficient measures across just three sectors – carbon, steel and iron – in the major economies alone, says a new World Economic Forum (WEF) report January 16, 2012.

The report titled “More with Less: Scaling Sustainable Consumption and Resource Efficiency” and copied to ghanabuinessnews.com outlines the opportunity and imperative for industry-led action for smarter resource efficiency through which economic value can be created without environmental depletion and degradation.

The Davos-based WEF report reveals in the report that sustainability efforts stuck in “pilot paralysis”, with slow intergovernmental progress and increasing citizen-consumer impatience as “we look onto a decade of economic and societal turbulence.”

It further suggested that industry can lead the way as efficiently, and perhaps with more immediate benefit to the consumer and the global economy, than traditional models for global action that exist today.

According to the report, the business case for the “green shift” is strong. “If consumer goods industries increase their energy efficiency, they could save $37 billion in 2030. Given the current geopolitical stresses and rising demand, which could potentially result in a 50% increase in energy costs, the 2030 figure could be as high as $55.5 billion,” it said.

The WEF noted that it is increasingly evident that the exhaustion of natural resources is a structural risk to long-term economic stability adding that a combination of a changing climate and increased demand in emerging economies has been pushing up costs of agricultural commodities.

“The price of cocoa rose by 246% and palm oil by 230% in just over the past decade. By 2030, freshwater demand will have exceeded the current capacity to supply by over 40% globally with close to four billion people will be living in areas of high water stress,” added the report.

The Managing Director, Head of Consumer Industries at WEF, Sarita Nayyar in a statement said, “The sustainability agenda is not an abstract development concept. There is real economic value at stake. Companies that effectively weave resource efficiency into their core strategy and operations can drive revenue growth, reduce cost and improve brand reputation.”

…Way forward

In its conclusion, the report’s findings said business can pave the way to securing competitive advantage in a resource-constrained world by empowering consumers and governments through a transformed demand where the consumer is at the heart of sustainable consumption.

It however said consumers care more about price, performance and convenience than sustainability indicating that about 50% of consumers surveyed in over 40 countries stated that “they do everything they can to protect the environment, but only a small proportion buys ethical brands and pays more for organic food.”

Another solution the report suggested was on the transformation of the value chains. It said many companies have specific initiatives that aim to make their business more sustainable, but these often exist in one department or in a silo. “Companies need to embed sustainability across the entire organization to be more efficient, innovate to tap into new markets and collaborate within and across industries to drive scale around sustainability.”

Transform the rules of the game – so says the WEF since intergovernmental processes are not delivering fast enough. The report advises that business can help shape the policy landscape to drive speed and scale with public-private interaction been a key area will be the greening of public procurement, reform of harmful subsidies, improving regional trade agreements and enabling long-term investments.

Although none of these dimensions are new in their own right, the report said “a holistic approach is currently missing. To bring solutions to scale, there is a need for a critical mass of stakeholders to work together across sectors.”

The Forum says it will drive a business-led dialogue at its upcoming annual meeting 2012 in Davos-Klosters this month to help achieve step changes in sustainability.

Along with key partners, the Forum will develop a programme of practical action in time for Rio+20 to ensure delivery on promises made, it added.

By Ekow Quandzie

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