We are in the midst of a seismic change in the way we organize our societies, run our businesses and live our lives. Whether we all stand to benefit from this change is up to you.
You are the one who can turn the myriad of interconnected risks we face into opportunities. Along with the Sustainable Development Goals launched by the United Nations, the annual Global Opportunity Report highlights concrete steps to reach global aspirations for a sustainable and resilient world. Below are 15 solutions for five of the most pressing issues we face right now, and ideas on how you could start a new business around it.
1. Problem: Loss of Ocean Biodiversity
Uncontrolled seas – the majority of the high seas is common territory. Nobody owns it and nobody protects it. Three billion people depend on protein from fish, but global ocean biodiversity is suffering due to pollution from land and ocean activities.
Closing The Loop: Closing the loop is an opportunity to stop overfeeding the sea nutrients that are slowly killing it, but it’s also an opportunity to reuse and recycle valuable resources. It’s the circular economy of the ocean
Regenerative Ocean Economy: Developing ways to use the oceans that supports biodiversity is an opportunity to create resilience and long-term value for society and business.
Smart Ocean: The oceans of the world are the last undiscovered frontier, which is slowly opening up to become smart oceans, this will enable us to make the right choices for sustainable development in the ocean space.
2. Problem: Resistance to Life-saving Medicine
We are entering a post-antibiotic era — where common infections and minor injuries can kill because the drugs don’t work anymore. Antibiotics are in the meat that we eat, it leaks to drinking water and is overused by doctors – it’s everywhere.
Antibiotic-free Food: Though still a niche in the food market, increasing consumer awareness is paving the way for a growing market in antibiotic-free food.
New Business Model for Antibiotics: A mix of innovative approaches to R&D and regulatory tools can help bring novel antibiotics to the market. It’s an entirely new business model.
Precision Treatment: New diagnostic tools can help doctors prescribe narrow spectrum antibiotics which only target the bad bacteria at play. Precise diagnose for precision treatment bring down overuse of antibiotics.
3. Problem: Accelerating Transport Emissions
Seven out of eight urban citizens breathe air that fails to meet WHO safe levels. Transport is mainly to blame, however, societies need mobility of people and goods to function and develop.
Flexibility Mobility: A flexible transport system provides flexibility in travel times, forms of transport and service provider, while today many people’s daily transport choices are being dictated by previous investments – for example, the car.
Crowd Transport: The transport collaborative economy is an opportunity to ride together and transport stuff together, which will bring down congestion and air pollution from emissions.
Low Transport Cities: Imagine living in a city where all your activities are within reach on foot, by bike or by a well-connected transport system. A low transport city is such a place.
4. Problem: A Generation Wasted
Youth all over the world are joining the ranks of the unemployed. Almost a quarter of the planet’s youth are neither working or studying. Jobless growth is now a global reality for the next generation.
Futurepreneurs: Conventional thinking sees entrepreneurship as an alternative to the conventional corporate world, but bringing the two worlds together through corporate incubators is an opportunity to grow jobs.
The Digital Labor Market: Opportunity and talent are not evenly distributed. Digital technology can bring jobs to marginalized youth in remote corners of the world.
Closing The Skills Gap: Education for a changing labor market needs to be flexible, giving youth the ability to learn skills in general or learn how to learn more when needed.
5. Problem: Global Food Crisis
Today there is enough food for everyone on the planet, but still 795 million people go to bed hungry every day. Thirty to fifty percent of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. In 2050, the world has to feed nine billion people in a warmer world with lower yields.
New Diets: A global dietary transition that includes putting more local produce and a varied source of proteins on our plates is an opportunity to put people, planet and our common prosperity on a healthy track.
Smart Farming: Vast dissemination of advanced technological tools at an affordable price has meant that both large and small-scale farmers have new and more precise tools to produce more with less.
Reduce Food Waste: From our farms to grocery stores to dinner tables, much of the food we grow is never eaten. Reducing food waste is an opportunity to innovate along the value chain.