Ethical Performance
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Sustainable business 'could be worth $10tn'

March 2010

Almost five per cent of the world's economic output could be accounted for by sustainability-related business by 2050.

That's the prediction of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which says in research carried out for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) that sustainable business could be worth as much as $10trillion (£6.5tn, €7.4tn) per year in 40 years time.

Even within the next ten years, PwC believes that figure could already have reached $500billion a year, and it predicts an annual market value of $1tn to $3tn by 2030.

However, PwC says its figures will only become reality if there is significant extra investment in two areas: energy and health and education.

The energy industry, according to PwC, requires a 'transformation' to achieve 'globally sustainable outcomes by 2050' and needs to come up with alternative, renewable energy sources in the near future. Health and education also needs much more investment because of the predicted growth in demand for services in both sectors. In a new report, PwC predicts investment opportunities in infrastructure, such as in the creation of low-carbon and 'zero waste' cities given the increasing urbanisation of the planet's population.

It says many of the new opportunities are likely to arise in emerging economies, where the share of global gross domestic product is projected to rise from 45 per cent in 2008 to 60 per cent in 2050.

As a result, the 'intensity' of global competition between OECD-based and emerging market businesses is likely to increase.

John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PwC, said: 'While there are inevitably many uncertainties surrounding any such long-term estimates, our analysis suggests that the broad order of magnitude of the additional investment opportunities from pursuing a sustainability-based agenda could be very significant.

'Whether this huge potential is realised remains to be seen, but there are certainly likely to be significant business opportunities arising over the next decade or two as the foundations for a sustainable future in 2050 begin to be put in place.'

The new analysis is the result of a research collaboration between the global professional services firm and 29 WBCSD member companies, consultants and stakeholder groups.

PwC | Global | Economics

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