First World Expo in the MENA region to be in 2020 Dubai

First World Expo in the MENA region to be in 2020 Dubai

Dubai’s Expo 2020 will be a six-month long event that is expected to support up to 905,200 full-time equivalent job-years between 2013-2031.

It is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East and North Africa region in the 168-year history of the event.

In a recent report titled, The economic impact of Expo 2020 Dubai, Ernst Young (EY) concluded by “As the host, Dubai aims to use the event to further enhance its international profile and reputation.”

All mainstream Gulf media picked up the story and below is Arabian Business’ that could possibly be one of the best.

Revealed: Dubai Expo 2020 to deliver $33bn boost to UAE economy

EY research says the largest event to be held in the Arab World is predicted to add the equivalent of 1.5% to UAE GDP

Revealed: Dubai Expo 2020 to deliver $33bn boost to UAE economy
Matthew Benson, partner, Transaction Advisory Services, MENA, EY.

Expo 2020 Dubai will boost the UAE economy by AED122.6 billion ($33.4 billion) and support 905,200 job-years between 2013 and 2031, according to an independent report published by global consultancy EY.

During the peak six-month period of the World Expo, the largest event to be held in the Arab World is predicted to add the equivalent of 1.5 percent to UAE gross domestic product.

The scale of investment pouring in to construct and host an event of this ambition, as well as goods and services consumed by the millions expected to visit and the businesses that will occupy the Expo site in the legacy phase, will result in an economic dividend that will benefit businesses large and small across a range of sectors for years to come, according to the report.

From November 2013 – when Dubai won the bid to host the Expo – until its opening in October 2020, the economic impetus will be driven by the construction sector as work continues on building the site and supporting infrastructure such as roads, bridges and the Dubai Metro Route 2020 line, EY noted.

Najeeb Mohammed Al-Ali, executive director of the Dubai Expo 2020 Bureau, said: “This independent report demonstrates that Expo 2020 Dubai is a critical long-term investment in the future of the UAE, which will contribute more than 120 billion dirhams to the economy between 2013 and 2031.

“Not only will the event encourage millions around the world to visit the UAE in 2020, it will also stimulate travel and tourism and support economic diversification for years after the Expo, leaving a sustainable economic legacy that will help to ensure the UAE remains a leading destination for business, leisure and investment.”  

The report added that small and medium enterprises, a core component of the UAE economy, will receive AED4.7 billion in investment during the pre-Expo phase, supporting 12,600 job-years.

Job-years is defined as full-time employment for one person for one year and describes the employment impact over the life or phase of a project.

During the peak six months of Expo 2020, visitor spending on tickets, merchandise, food and beverage, hotels, flights and local transport will propel economic activity.

Expo 2020 expects 25 million visits, with 70 per cent of visitors coming from outside the UAE, providing the hospitality industry with an unmissable opportunity to show the world what the UAE has to offer.

The EY report added that the positive thrust will continue in the decade after Expo closes its doors in April 2021, thanks largely to the transformation of the site into District 2020, an integrated urban development that will house the Dubai Exhibition Centre.

Matthew Benson, partner, Transaction Advisory Services, MENA, EY, said: “Expo 2020 is an exciting long-term investment for the UAE, and is expected to have a significant impact on the economy and how jobs are created directly and indirectly.

“As the host, Dubai aims to use the event to further enhance its international profile and reputation. The event will celebrate innovation, promote progress and foster cooperation, and entertain and educate global audiences.

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MENA region hosts the world’s elite today

MENA region hosts the world’s elite today

As per the World Bank in its latest announcement, “Growth has picked up across the region and is projected to strengthen over the next few years. And almost all MENA countries have moved to reduce or eliminate energy subsidies, identify new sources of non-oil revenues, and expand social safety nets to shield the poor from adverse effects of change.”

Meanwhile the World Economic Forum informs that the MENA region hosts the world’s elite today and tomorrow by the Dead Sea shore, to try and debate some of the region’s current issues. Jordan has already held the WEF’S gathering in the recent past; refer to MENA-Forum.

5 key challenges facing the MENA region ahead of our global summit

ByMirek Dusek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Geopolitical and Regional Affairs, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum

The sun rises on the first day of Eid al-Fitr in Amman August 19, 2012. Eid-al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islamic calendar.  REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed (JORDAN - Tags: CITYSPACE ENVIRONMENT RELIGION) - GM1E88J1APD01

For thousands of years, the Dead Sea has attracted visitors from far and wide, drawn by legends of its power to heal and rejuvenate. On 6-7 April, 1,000 key leaders from government, business and civil society will gather on its shores for the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Over two days they will confront the issues facing more than 400 million people.

A region of two opposing systems

The Arab world is a region of two contrasting systems. One system features a dynamic private sector, digitally native youth and open economies. The other has a bloated public sector and closed, controlled economies.

Most people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) interact with both systems, facing a mixed reality. Wealth sits side-by-side with poverty; an exciting entrepreneurial culture struggles with leaden bureaucracy; and an insatiable appetite for the new is balanced with a reverence for tradition.

How these two systems interact – and whether the dynamic, forward-looking system can thrive while respecting the traditions of the Arab world – is among the most important issues the region is facing today.

Five key questions

The following five areas will determine whether the Arab world can successfully move towards the system of innovation and competitiveness.

1. Can the Arab world develop a new, sustainable economic and social framework?

The social contract in much of the Arab world has relied on state-provided employment. This is unsustainable. Nearly half the population is under 25, and a quarter of those are unemployed. Add the biggest gender gap in the world, and it’s clear a new framework is needed.

2. Can a mechanism for conflict resolution be developed?

Ongoing humanitarian disasters in Syria, Yemen and Iraq require immediate attention, as do the longer-term projects of rebuilding fully functioning states. The region has been home to long-standing tensions, and unless these are mitigated, a thriving, competitive region will be hard to realise.

3. Can an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation be developed?

The stories of individual success in the region are too often ones of thriving despite the economic framework. An ecosystem that nurtures innovation and encourages firms to flourish and grow is needed.

4. Are countries prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Changes in the way we work are happening more quickly than most societies are prepared for. There is a short window for establishing the right regulatory environment, and reskilling people to make sure they – and the larger economies – can capture the opportunities of technology.

5. Will addressing corruption and transparency be a priority?

Governance reform is a “must do” issue in the region and disillusionment caused by perceptions of corruption is particularly strong among young Arabs.

Global questions, Arab answers

While other regions have grappled with similar questions, the Arab world needs Arab solutions, that capitalize on the unique strengths of the area while accounting for its important sensibilities. There are good examples of this starting to happen.

The UAE is playing a leading role in integrating the region into the global economy. The new Emirates Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, run by the Dubai Future Foundation in partnership with the World Economic Forum, is working to shape governance and capacity issues in the MENA, and it could shape data protocols across the world as a whole. Europe is enforcing strict data protections and regulations, while the United States is taking a more liberal approach. The Arab solution being developed may not just be a better fit for the region, but for elsewhere as well.

Saudi Arabia already has an influential voice as part of the G20, and it’s a voice that can grow. In 2020, it will host the Riyadh Summit, presenting an opportunity for greater impact on the regional and global agenda. A forward-looking programme that strengthens the MENA economies and the global economy as a whole will be an important step toward long-term success for the area.

Actions not words

There is a dire need for a new collaborative platform that brings governments together with businesses and other stakeholders in private-public cooperation. This is the aim of the World Economic Forum’s summit in Jordan. By convening members of the public and private sectors, and bringing new voices into the arena, such as the 100 Arab Start-ups, we hope to facilitate forward-leaning dialogue that understands and respects the values and culture of the region.

World Trade facing headwinds in 2019/2020

World Trade facing headwinds in 2019/2020

World trade will continue to face strong headwinds in 2019 and 2020 after growing more slowly than expected in 2018 due to rising trade tensions and increased economic uncertainty, said the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Global trade growth to lose momentum in 2019: WTO

WTO economists expect merchandise trade volume growth to fall to 2.6 per cent in 2019 — down from 3.0 per cent in 2018. Trade growth could then rebound to 3.0 per cent in 2020; however, this is dependent on an easing of trade tensions.

WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo said: “With trade tensions running high, no one should be surprised by this outlook. Trade cannot play its full role in driving growth when we see such high levels of uncertainty.”

“It is increasingly urgent that we resolve tensions and focus on charting a positive path forward for global trade which responds to the real challenges in today’s economy – such as the technological revolution and the imperative of creating jobs and boosting development.

“WTO members are working to do this and are discussing ways to strengthen and safeguard the trading system. This is vital. If we forget the fundamental importance of the rules-based trading system we would risk weakening it, which would be an historic mistake with repercussions for jobs, growth and stability around the world,” he added.

Trade growth in 2018 was weighed down by several factors, including new tariffs and retaliatory measures affecting widely-traded goods, weaker global economic growth, volatility in financial markets and tighter monetary conditions in developed countries, among others. Consensus estimates have world GDP growth slowing from 2.9 per cent in 2018 to 2.6 per cent in both 2019 and 2020.

The preliminary estimate of 3.0 per cent for world trade growth in 2018 is below the WTO’s most recent forecast of 3.9 per cent issued last September. The shortfall is mostly explained by a worse-than-expected result in the fourth quarter, when world trade as measured by the average of exports and imports declined by 0.3 per cent. Until then, third quarter trade had been up 3.8 per cent, in line with WTO projections.

Trade expansion in the current year is most likely to fall within a range from 1.3 per cent to 4.0 per cent. It should be noted that trade growth could be below this range if trade tensions continue to build, or above it if they start to ease.

Nominal trade values also rose in 2018 due to a combination of volume and price changes. World merchandise exports totalled $19.48 trillion, up 10 per cent from the previous year. The rise was driven partly by higher oil prices, which increased by roughly 20 per cent between 2017 and 2018. – TradeArabia News Service

Why has growth been the panacea to any development

Why has growth been the panacea to any development

Since time immemorial, and all in the MENA region know that growth or rather the lack of it for centuries, has brought only dire consequences. Why has growth been the panacea to any development never questioned?  Richard Heinberg, author and speaker, gives us his straightforward opinion in this article of ensia republished here below.

Opinion: Sooner or later, we have to stop economic growth — and we’ll be better for it

By Richard Heinberg
@richardheinberg , Author and speaker.

The end of growth will come one day, perhaps very soon, whether we’re ready or not. If we plan for and manage it, we could well wind up with greater well-being.

January 8, 2019 — Both the U.S. economy and the global economy have expanded dramatically in the past century, as have life expectancies and material progress. Economists raised in this period of plenty assume that growth is good, necessary even, and should continue forever and ever without end, amen. Growth delivers jobs, returns on investment and higher tax revenues. What’s not to like? We’ve gotten so accustomed to growth that governments, corporations and banks now depend on it. It’s no exaggeration to say that we’re collectively addicted to growth.

The trouble is, a bigger economy uses more stuff than a smaller one, and we happen to live on a finite planet. So, an end to growth is inevitable. Ending growth is also desirable if we want to leave some stuff (minerals, forests, biodiversity and stable climate) for our kids and their kids. Further, if growth is meant to have anything to do with increasing quality of life, there is plenty of evidence to suggest it has passed the point of diminishing returns: Even though the U.S. economy is 5.5 times bigger now than it was in 1960 (in terms of real GDP), America is losing ground on its happiness index.

So how do we stop growth without making life miserable — and maybe even making it better?

To start with, there are two strategies that many people already agree on. We should substitute good consumption for bad, for example using renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. And we should use stuff more efficiently — making products that last longer and then repairing and recycling them instead of tossing them in a landfill. The reason these strategies are uncontroversial is that they reduce growth’s environmental damage without impinging on growth itself.

But renewable energy technology still requires materials (aluminum, glass, silicon and copper for solar panels; concrete, steel, copper and neodymium for wind turbines). And efficiency has limits. For example, we can reduce the time required to send a message to nearly zero, but from then on improvements are infinitesimal. In other words, substitution and efficiency are good, but they’re not sufficient. Even if we somehow arrive at a near-virtual economy, if it is growing we’ll still use more stuff, and the result will be pollution and resource depletion. Sooner or later, we have to do away with growth directly.

Getting Off Growth

If we’ve built our institutions to depend on growth, doesn’t that imply social pain and chaos if we go cold turkey? Perhaps. Getting off growth without a lot of needless disruption will require coordinated systemic changes, and those in turn will need nearly everyone’s buy-in. Policymakers will have to be transparent with regard to their actions, and citizens will want reliable information and incentives. Success will depend on minimizing pain and maximizing benefit.

The main key will be to focus on increasing equality. During the century of expansion, growth produced winners and losers, but many people tolerated economic inequality because they believed (usually mistakenly) that they’d one day get their share of the growth economy. During economic contraction, the best way to make the situation tolerable to a majority of people will be to increase equality. From a social standpoint, equality will serve as a substitute for growth. Policies to achieve equity are already widely discussed, and include full, guaranteed employment; a guaranteed minimum income; progressive taxation; and a maximum income.

These are ways to make economic shrinkage palatable; but how would policy makers actually go about putting the brakes on growth?

Meanwhile we could begin to boost quality of life simply by tracking it more explicitly: instead of focusing government policy on boosting GDP (the total dollar value of all goods and services produced domestically), why not aim to increase Gross National Happiness — as measured by a selected group of social indicators?

These are ways to make economic shrinkage palatable; but how would policymakers actually go about putting the brakes on growth?

One tactic would be to implement a shorter workweek. If people are working less, the economy will slow down — and meanwhile, everyone will have more time for family, rest and cultural activities.

We could also de-financialize the economy, discouraging wasteful speculation with a financial transaction tax and a 100 percent reserve requirement for banks.

Stabilizing population levels (by incentivizing small families and offering free reproductive health care) would make it easier to achieve equity and would also cap the numbers of both producers and consumers.

Caps should also be placed on resource extraction and pollution. Start with fossil fuels: annually declining caps on coal, oil and gas extraction would reduce energy use while protecting the climate.

Cooperative Conservatism

Altogether, reining in growth would come with a raft of environmental benefits. Carbon emissions would decline; resources ranging from forests to fish to topsoil would be preserved for future generations; and space would be left for other creatures, protecting the diversity of life on our precious planet. And these environmental benefits would quickly accrue to people, making life more beautiful, easy and happy for everyone.

Engineering a happy conclusion to the growth binge of the past century might be challenging. But it’s not impossible.

Granted, we’re talking about an unprecedented, coordinated economic shift that would require political will and courage. The result might be hard to pigeonhole in the capitalist-socialist terms of reference with which most of us are familiar. Perhaps we could think of it as cooperative conservatism (since its goal would be to conserve nature while maximizing mutual aid). It would require a lot of creative thinking on everyone’s part.

Sound difficult? Here’s the thing: ultimately, it’s not optional. The end of growth will come one day, perhaps very soon, whether we’re ready or not. If we plan for and manage it, we could well wind up with greater well-being. If we don’t, we could find ourselves like Wile E. Coyote plunging off a cliff. Engineering a happy conclusion to the growth binge of the past century might be challenging. But it’s not impossible; whereas what we’re currently trying to do — maintain perpetual growth of the economy on a finite planet — most assuredly is.

Renewable energy to enhance food security

Renewable energy to enhance food security

Many developing countries lose 30-40% harvest due to lack of storage facilities reported Binsal Abdul Kader, in GulfNews of November 17, 2018 on Adnan Z Ameen, director-general of IRENA, (pictured above, courtesy IRENA Image Credit. 

Renewable energy to enhance food security across world

Abu Dhabi: Adoption of renewable energy will help ensure food security across the globe, apart from fighting the climate change, a top official of the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said here on Tuesday.

“Many developing countries lose 30 to 40 per cent of agricultural harvest due to lack of storage and processing facilities in rural areas,” said Adnan Z. Ameen, director-general of Irena on the side-lines of the 18th meeting of the agency’s Council, one of Irena’s two governing bodies.

He said renewable energy could power such facilities to avert such food waste.

The governments and businesses have to take urgent action to check climate change, he said while addressing the Council meeting that has brought together Irena member countries from across the world and observers to discuss the global energy transformation.

“The recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report released in October 2018 stated that urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to stop global temperatures from rising over 1.5°C.  The IPCC highlighted the accelerated deployment of low-carbon energy technology and energy efficiency as central to decarbonisation strategy and called for fundamental shifts in investments and mindsets — further highlighting the relevance of our work in the energy transition,” Ameen said.

Irena’s latest statistics released in June 2018 showed that renewable energy generation worldwide increased by 6.7 per cent in 2016. Further, a record 167GW of the new capacity was installed in 2017, the biggest growth ever and 8.8 per cent increase compared to the previous year. Solar and wind accounted for 85 per cent of this growth.

“Our database of 17,000 real-life projects representing some 1,000GW of capacity in almost 150 countries indicates that they are well within the cost range of power generated by fossil fuels. Irena’s Renewable Power Generation Costs report also estimates that, by 2020, all currently commercialised renewable energy power generation technologies will be fully competitive with traditional sources. This is a watershed moment for the agency. I cannot underscore how important these cost reductions are,” Ameen said.

At the recent Global Climate Action Summit in September 2018, almost 400 companies, cities, states and regions set 100 per cent renewable energy or zero emissions targets. This included California — the host of the summit and the world’s fifth-largest economy — and businesses with collective annual revenues of $2.75 trillion (Dh10.09 trillion). This presents a significant opportunity as more and more stakeholders are turning to renewables to meet the need for cost-effective long-term energy supply, the director-general said.

“During the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Copenhagen in May this year, we released the first analysis of the market and industry trends on corporate sourcing of renewables, which is now taking place in 75 countries around the world. We found that market for corporate sourcing in 2017 reached about 465 terawatt-hours, which is almost the level of France’s total electricity demand. And this momentum is growing as more and more companies are coming on board,” he said.

UAE contributes heavily to Irena’s budget

The UAE as the host country of IRENA is heavily contributing the budget of the agency, a top IRENA official said here on Tuesday.

“As of early November, we had received $16.6 million (Dh60.92 million) in assessed contributions, representing some 77 per cent of our core budget. Germany and the UAE have provided 100% of the 2018 core non-assessed funds in the amount of $9.66 million, and we obtained 100 per cent of the core non-assessed ‘other’ funding of $1.7 million for the biennium,” said Adnan Z. Ameen, director-general of Irena at the agency’s Council meeting.

Almost $10 million were received in contributions from Belgium (the Walloon government), European Commission, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the UAE, he said.

Adnan Z Ameen, director-general of Irena
COURTESY IRENA

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Abundance Is The New Sustainability

Abundance Is The New Sustainability

Only Forbes magazine can produce such article. It is written by Afdhel Aziz , Contributor and posted on November 4, 2018 and about :

The Power Of Purpose: Abundance Is The New Sustainability

Abundance is the New Sustainability Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

For a while now, I’ve been struggling with the word ‘sustainability’. Don’t get me wrong: I think it is a worthy goal and it is encouraging to see how pretty much every major Fortune 500 company now has a sustainability strategy in place. But to me, sustainability as a goal seems like such a low bar to achieve: ‘the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.’ It seems especially unambitious given the scale of the urgent challenges we face as a planet: how we as humans have wiped out 60% of the animal populations since 1970 according to the recent sobering report by the WWF; about how we are rapidly approaching the ‘tipping point’ where climate change could spiral out of control, leaving us with a runaway vicious cycle of global devastation. (By the way, I think we should start referring to ‘climate change’ as the ‘climate apocalypse’ to give the issue its proper sense of crisis, but that’s a whole separate article).

One of the most foundational thinkers preaching a more optimistic worldview is Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize Foundation and Singularity University whose book ‘Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think’ (co-authored with Peter Koettler) should be required reading for every CEO and CMO. In it, he argues that the arrival of new ‘exponential’ technologies such as clean energy, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and others will lead to a flourishing in human society where we can approach a state of ‘abundance’: where we can provide nine billion people on this planet with the same standard of living that currently, those in the most privileged societies enjoy. As he puts it in the book, “Humanity is now entering a period of radical transformation in which technology has the potential to significantly raise the basic standards of living for every man, woman, and child on the planet.”

I believe that ‘Abundance’ should be the new ‘Sustainability’: the collective goal that we set for ourselves as the ‘moonshot’ of our time. We have the tools and technologies to rebuild what we have broken: what is missing is our collective will to put aside the tribalism and partisan bickering that occupies our consciousness, and focus on the far bigger threat that is facing us : species-level extinction on an unimaginable scale (which by the way, this planet already has seen five of already). If a hostile alien force was to arrive tomorrow, humanity would band together in a hurry: the threat we are facing is far greater than anything Spielberg could envision on a cinema screen.

Here’s some good news. When it comes to energy, we have more than we could ever use: in 88 minutes, 470 exajoules of energy from the sun hits the Earth’s surface, as much energy as humanity consumes in a year.  The price of solar is now falling well below the prices of fossil fuels, and we are rapidly ramping up production of solar panels and batteries to the point where they can start to be widely adopted across the world, creating an energy abundance that can fuel many of the other technologies needed to win this battle (much like the exponential increase in computing power and reduction in price predicted in Moore’s Law lead to the proliferation of cheaper and more powerful devices that we now carry around in our pockets).

Aside from energy, the other uber-challenge facing humanity is water: only 1% of the planet’s water is drinkable, and with much of that becoming tainted with everything from nitrates to antibiotics, the issue has been how to find enough to sustain our ever-growing needs. Recently, Diamandis’s X-Prize Foundation (which issues crowd-sourced challenges around some of humanities biggest problems) awarded their Water Abundance X-Prize (powered by the Tata Group and Australian Aid) to the Skysource / Skywater Alliance, based in Venice Beach, California, which received a grand prize of $1.5M for developing an easily deployable high-volume water generator that can be used in any climate, meeting the competition parameters of extracting a minimum of 2,000 liters of water per day from the atmosphere using 100 percent renewable energy, at a cost of no more than two cents per liter. It turns out there is more water in our atmosphere than in all our rivers combined. I believe breakthroughs like this could in the long term lead to ‘water generators’ being as common-place as solar panels, leading to a decentralized ‘water internet’ that greatly reduces the dependence on increasingly polluted centralized water systems.

I believe corporations have an essential role to play in this journey—because corporations and government are two of the only things that work in trillions; at the scale and speed that these problems need to be addressed. After McDonald’s announced its decision to move to cage-free eggs (the company buys more than 2 billion a year), over 200 companies followed suit. Uber has announced plans to make its entire fleet of cars in London all-electric by 2025 to address the problem of city pollution. Adidas is set to make over a billion dollars this year by selling its Parley for the Ocean sneakers made out of waste ocean plastic. Silicon Valley entities like Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital is ‘a partnership of philanthropists, technologists, and capitalists utilizing venture capital as a force to create value and change on a global scale’ that is doing fascinating work in tackling problems in unique ways. As Diamandis himself has said ‘the world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities’. Companies are waking up to the massive business potential of tackling the world’s problems in ways that drive revenue. As Lesa Ukman, founder of Pro Social Valuation has said ‘We are moving past the era of corporate social responsibility to corporate social opportunity.’

I believe that corporations and government have to work in tandem: the government can raise the ‘floor’ (for instance, in the automobile sector via raising CAFE standards around fuel consumption) while corporations can raise the ‘ceiling’ (the success of Tesla has pushed every single major car manufacturer to accelerate the launch of their own electric cars). Whether it is at the federal, state or city level, government has a role to play in this movement – to regulate wisely, to provide a check and balance, but to also nurture and grow the private sector, by partnering with them in new and innovative ways. Unprecedented problems require unprecedented partnerships.

I also believe that the idea of ‘abundance’ should cover more than environmental issues – but also extend to the idea of people and social justice. Some of America’s biggest corporations including Apple, Pfizer, Microsoft, and Marriott are on the frontlines of the battle for LGBTQ issues. Starbucks announced that ‘every benefits-eligible U.S. partner working part- or full-time will receive 100% tuition coverage for a first-time bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program.’ Progressive companies like Greystone Bakery are proposing an idea that I think every single company in America should embrace: the idea of ‘Open Hiring’, which fills jobs without judging applicants or asking any questions, creating opportunities for those who have been kept out of the workforce (which includes women, men, people of color, people of all faiths and sexual orientations, immigrants and refugees, those living in poverty or who have spent time in prison, and anyone else who has faced barriers to employment.) 

I propose that Chief Sustainability Officers should rename themselves ‘Chief Abundance Officers’—and that they should radically re-frame their definition of ROI to not only include environmental but social impact as well. We need a more holistic view of measuring the ‘good’ that a company does – and the positive impact that it has on a multitude of different factors ranging from brand value and brand equity, to advocacy and loyalty, to employee engagement, and recruitment and retention. The data is now clear on how hitherto ‘soft’ measures like diversity and gender representation now contribute to financial performance. Companies with the most amount of female board directors outperform those with the least by 66% on a return on invested capital. Companies with above-average total diversity have both 19% points higher innovation revenues and 9% points higher EBIT margins. And companies which provide their employees with opportunities for volunteering and fundraising have 57% less turnover (the average cost of replacing an employee is 1.2 times their annual salary). 

 According to Gallup, a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work; while those companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. How do we engage these 87% and unlock this huge pool of talent? Well, when asked about career goals at work, whether it was Millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers, the answer was the same: the desire to ‘help solve social and/or environmental challenges’. Entrepreneur and activist Justin Dillon in his brilliant book ‘A Selfish Plan to Change The World’ sums it up beautifully: ‘Half the world has a poverty of means. The other half has a poverty of meaning.’ Corporations are one of the few things that can solve both: creating products and services that meet the needs of the ‘bottom billion’ of this planet which help raise them out of poverty and into a world of opportunity; while also giving those who already have means but are hungry for meaning and purpose in their life the chance to work on these problems in a way that will unleash their potential and make them proud of the legacy they leave behind.

What is awesome to behold is how quickly we as a species can take action: witness the speed with which the global attention to the problem of plastic – and the ensuing bans on plastic products – have taken hold. Regenerative agriculture has huge potential to not only reduce our dependence on chemically-driven industrial farming – but also pull carbon out of the air and into the soil. The Powerhouse movement out of Norway proposes we move beyond LEED certification into a world of buildings which are ‘net-positive’ – that give back more to their neighborhoods than they consume. The world’s collective decision to fix the hole in the ozone layer is paying off – albeit 30 years later. We are waking up to the potential of the blockchain and bitcoin to create a different technological and financial infrastructure on which to build new enterprises, in a way that democratizes opportunity for the many, not the few. 

The difference is us. It’s going to take a radical shift in our own consumption habits: it takes roughly 1 million pounds of materials annually to support one American’s lifestyle, and less than 1 percent of everything we produce is still in use after six months. It’s going to take us putting aside the labels that separate us – Democrat or Republican, Red State or Blue State – and seeing our common humanity. It’s going to take those of us working in the corporate sector ripping up the rulebook of ‘business as usual’ and finding new ways to innovate, new ways to be leaders. It’s going to mean letting our values drive our value; acting with a sense of moral responsibility, not just financial. As Starbuck’s CEO Howard Schultz put it recently, ‘Not every business decision is an economic one.’ As we say in our book ‘Good is the New Cool’, ‘If we don’t deal with income inequality, no one will be able to afford our products. If we don’t deal with climate change, there’s not going to be anyone left to buy them.’ We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only repair our fraying planet and leave it in better shape than we found it but to lay the foundations for future generations to live in an era of peace and prosperity that has been impossible to contemplate until now.

 

I am the founder and chief purpose officer of Conspiracy of Love, a purpose-driven think tank and idea incubator that helps Fortune 500 companies like Adidas, Sonos, Bacardi, Mars and Coty use culture and technology as a force for good. I spent 20 years as a consumer markete…

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Afdhel Aziz is a writer, keynote speaker and founder of Conspiracy of Love, a purpose consultancy that helps Fortune 500 companies and startups use culture and technology as a force for good.

 

 

Afdhel Aziz Contributor

 

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

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I write about how purpose drives business and social impact.