Harness growth opportunities whilst safeguarding the environment
Protecting the environment is now a priority for consumers, companies and governments. Their converging interests, driven by increased global awareness, technological advances and health concerns, are underpinning a global drive to safeguard the world’s natural resources.
1 . Consumers’ increasing awareness
North American organic products market US organic food market size (USD bn)
Public opinion is forcing governments and private companies to make large-scale changes to their strategies.
With nearly 50 per cent of the world connected to the internet1, the transmission of thought-provoking information has never been faster or more wide-reaching.
Bearing testimony to this is the global social phenomenon that is “Under the Dome”, a film documenting the scale of China’s urban pollution, which was viewed online 200 million times within days of its release in 2015. Soon after, China pledged to cut its CO2 emissions to between 60–65 per cent of 2005 levels by 20302.
Companies are also responding to consumer demands, and are increasingly factoring in environmental considerations into their thinking. The rising supply of organic produce in agriculture is a prime example of a sector benefiting from a shift in consumer habits.
2 . Private sector innovation
Private companies are seeking to benefit from the shift in consumer focus.
For instance, the development of advanced analytics and services in the waste management and recycling sector is helping alleviate the wasteful use of natural resources.
Meanwhile, innovations such as better fluid dynamics modelling technology have greatly improved the quality and efficiency of water treatment and wastewater reuse technologies. In another example, companies can now analyse minute concentrations of pollutants, such as oestrogen from birth control tablets, in rivers. This can help them understand these chemicals’ effects on fish populations, and as a result bring about positive environmental change.
Between 2000 and 2012, global annual applications for environmental patents more than doubled (see chart). This is indicative of the increased focus private companies are placing on providing innovative solutions to environmental issues.