Better Business Better World: India Focus


New report shows business leaders could also create 72 million jobs and drive inclusive growth in India

New Delhi (26 April 2017) — Companies can unlock significant economic opportunities worth US$1 trillion in India and US$12 trillion globally by 2030 if they pursue sustainable business models. These opportunities and how to achieve them take centre stage today in New Delhi where the Business & Sustainable Development Commission is releasing its country report, Better Business, Better World: India, which reveals how the private sector can drive innovative solutions to social and environmental challenges and achieve inclusive growth.

The Business Commission’s flagship global report, launched in January 2017, shows how sustainable business models could open economic opportunities across 60 “hot spots” worth up to US$12 trillion and increase employment by up to 380 million jobs by 2030. More than half of the total value of the opportunities are in developing countries. The Business Commission’s country report, Better Business, Better World India, breaks down the estimated US$1 trillion of economic value and the potential for creating 72 million jobs by 2030 across four key systems:

  • Food & Agriculture: US$290 billion and 22 million new jobs
  • Cities: US$187 billion and 22 million jobs
  • Energy & Minerals: US$282 billion and 16 million jobs
  • Health & Well-being: US$248 billion and 12 million jobs

While India has lifted more people out of poverty in the last 15 years, significant problems persist. In a country where the wealth of the richest 1% is equal to more than 58% of the population, the widening chasm between rich and poor will continue to have serious impacts on health, education and access to sustainable energy, holding back overall economic and development progress.

Better Business, Better World India shows that instead of being burdens, these challenges can be economic boons to business, offering companies a pathway for achieving a new growth model. Our report shows there is a strong financial incentive for those who devise sustainable solutions for these challenges,” said Mark Malloch-Brown, chair of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. “The world needs the ingenuity of business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs in India to open these opportunities and create a global economy that leaves no one in the margins.”

Today’s launch of the Business Commission’s India report is part of a larger event to mobilise local businesses to advance the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (or Global Goals)—17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle environmental challenges by 2030. The aim of “Making Global Goals Local Business - India,” hosted by the UN Global Compact, is to mobilize responsible business action, drive breakthrough innovation and create new market opportunities that advance the SDGs. The Business Commission report shows that the potential rewards for doing so are significant.

“Companies in India are increasingly stepping up to take on these challenges, but they need to do so at greater speed and scale,” said Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact and a member of the Business Commission. “Through the India report and our local event, we hope to spark the next wave of CEOs, investors and entrepreneurs who understand the Global Goals opportunity and want to take the next step to achieve them.”

Across the four systems highlighted, the report also identifies hot spots that offer the most economic value for companies pursuing sustainable business models. In food and agriculture for example, the biggest business opportunities are addressing low-income food markets and reducing food waste. By far the largest single opportunity for Indian businesses is in risk pooling in health care (Risk pooling distributes the cost of health interventions among broader group of insurers rather than a single entity, which helps to lower costs for insurance subscribers.) In cities, affordable housing holds the most financial promise, at US$52 billion. The top five opportunities include:

  • Risk pooling, US$145 billion to the Health and Well-being system
  • Low-income food markets, US$87 billion to the Food & Agriculture system
  • Reducing food waste in supply chain, US$62 billion to the Food & Agriculture system
  • Renewable expansion, US$57 billion to the Energy & Minerals system
  • Affordable housing, US$52 billion to the Cities system

To open these and other economic hotspots identified in the report, both public and private financing will be needed to come up with the US$2.4 trillion required annually to achieve the SDGs. In India alone, it is estimated that there is an annual funding shortfall of US$565 billion per year to 2030. To bridge the gap, Better Business, Better World India recommends expanded and more efficient use of blended finance instruments, merging public and private funding. If executed well, blended finance could be the single most important factor in delivering the Global Goals.

A leading impact investor, Vineet Rai, founder of Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group and a member of the Business Commission, believes innovative approaches to funding will be the key to meeting financing needs in India and elsewhere. In particular, he believes entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in meeting the SDGs.

“We need to inspire entrepreneurs to build companies that are aligned to the idea of an equitable and sustainable world,” said Rai. “To meet the SDG targets we need a significant amount of risk capital that catalyses innovative business opportunities and takes them to scale, while creating employment, reducing vulnerabilities around poverty, and addressing hunger, health, potable water, sanitation, and sustainable energy.” (Rai will be speaking about driving breakthrough innovation to achieve the SDGs on 27 April as part of the report launch at the UN Global Compact event in India.)

At the same time, a “new social contract” between business, government and civil society is essential to defining the role of the private sector in a new, fairer economy. Companies can begin to do their part by aligning with recommendations and actions outlined in the report: rebuilding trust by creating decent jobs, rewarding workers fairly, investing in the local community and paying a fair share of taxes.

The Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) ran from 2016 to 2018 with a mission to inspire and mobilise business leaders to align their companies with the SDGs.