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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9

Vision 2050 – A South African perspective

Author: Anthony Gewer
Organisation: 25 Degrees in Africa - Climate Change
Publish Date: 03/09/2009
Country: Africa
Sector: Development
Method: Foresight
Theme: Sustainability
Type: Article
Language: English

As the world grapples with how to tackle the myriad of sustainability challenges facing business and society, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), through 29 of its member companies, has initiated the "Vision 2050" programme which seeks to guide the business response to the challenges facing the planet over the next four decades, including significant population growth, heightened urbanisation, strain on resources and increased carbon emissions.

A pathway towards sustainability

The National Business Initiative (NBI), Accenture and Eskom, supported by the WBCSD, recently held a "learning by sharing" dialogue for South African companies to explore global views on how to realise the critical pathway towards sustainability in 2050. This critical pathway refers to a scenario around changes that would occur over the next four decades, given the current economic, environmental and social challenges we face, and is informed by the interplay of four elements: people and values; governance; economy; and resources, energy and environment. The critical pathway suggests a greater convergence and consolidation of strategies at a global level, all geared towards finding common solutions and invoking shifts in behaviour and practices.

A strategic agenda

For Peter Lacey, Head of Sustainability (Europe, Africa and Latin America) at Accenture, Vision 2050 must be seen as a strategic agenda that drives the way in which businesses respond to the increasing pressures of sustainability while also presenting opportunities for companies to manage risk, promote their brand and increase efficiency, as well as to enhance corporate competitiveness and identify new business opportunities.

This challenge was brought home by Mandy Rambharos, Climate Change and Sustainability Manager at Eskom, who outlined Eskom's emphasis on scenario planning and risk mitigation, particularly in terms of ensuring the long-term sustainability of energy supply and opportunities for market growth. This is an integrated company-wide strategy that guides its investment and trading strategy.

The broad solution, according to Wayne Borchardt, Senior Executive - Strategy Lead with Accenture in South Africa, is a focus on reducing the ecological footprint of the country while simultaneously improving human development. Both government and business have an important role to play in achieving this. The complementary interaction of human development and ecological footprint brings countries into a sustainable solution space from which the Vision 2050 objectives can be achieved.

All-important agreement

The key challenge going forward is how to create the platforms for engagement between business and government in order to achieve greater alignment on the development goals of the country from a social, economic and ecological perspective. The Vision 2050 project provides a potential framework for this engagement and a mapping-out of tangible objectives and targets. Through this engagement, the respective roles of business and government can be more clearly understood and agreed upon.

Lacey concluded by emphasising that, in light of the current economic crisis, the positioning of winners and losers within the business community over the next decade will be noticeable. The winners will be those companies that embrace the challenges and opportunities associated with achieving a sustainable world, and make smart investments on the basis of this. This will require vision, leadership and a clear understanding of the risks and opportunities. Furthermore, South Africa, the workshop agreed, was an important ‘emerging market, developing country laboratory’ in which the challenges of sustainable development could be explored.

It was decided that the NBI has to consider how to take this important process forward.

For more information, contact Anthony Gewer at gewer.anthony@nbi.org.za This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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