The Global Goals Matter for African Business Leaders

Over the past 30 years, the world has seen huge social improvements and technological progress. Yet despite these successes, our current model of development is deeply flawed. Signs of its failure and imperfections in today’s markets are everywhere. There are vast numbers of people who do not have access to basic services such as healthcare, clean water, clean energy and sanitation. Social inequality and youth unemployment is worsening in countries across the world, and many education systems are still failing to deliver access to high quality education. The uncertainty created by these burdens makes it hard for businesses to invest with confidence.

The Better Business, Better World report offers a positive alternative: setting business strategy and transforming markets in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals). These 17 Global Goals and their 169 component targets have been designed from the bottom up, with collaboration from government, business and civil society, to deliver the practical solutions needed to protect the planet’s resources and leave no one behind. Getting policies and public investment right is necessary to delivery this outcome. But it is not nearly enough.

The Global Goals will be delivered only with strong private sector engagement. Getting the right private sector and market development is key to driving sustainable growth. This is because Africa is the continent where the potential for inclusive, green growth and development remains most untapped. Many African countries have burgeoning populations with improving education levels and a growing middle class. There are more mouths to feed, housing and urban settlements to be provided, and power and infrastructure bottlenecks to be resolved. At the same time, they are also vulnerable to droughts, poor agricultural yields, poor management of the very bio-diversity that gives us life, an over-reliance on base commodities and global trade, and conflict for which we have a global cost of 9.1 percent of GDP in 2014.

The research conducted by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission shows that the Global Goals offer a compelling growth strategy for business leaders in Africa, one that opens up immense new market opportunities. African business leaders can drive sustainable development at home by incorporating the Global Goals into their core growth strategies, value chain operations and policy positions, whatever the scale of their operations. What we describe below are some of the biggest market hotspots for sustainable business-led growth in Africa.


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