56 ways to achieve inclusive prosperity

Delegates at the recently-held Responsible Business Forum have produced a set of detailed strategies seeking to scale up responsible business practices and make it the ‘new normal’.

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Participants of the 3rd Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development formed more than 50 recommendations centred around harnessing natural resources through inclusive and sustainable practices, one of which suggests that multinational firms should include SMEs and supply chain partners at all levels in the development of best practices. Image: Shutterstock

Over 500 international business leaders, governments and non-profit organisations have come up with 56 recommendations to help guide decision makers from across society implement inclusive and sustainable practices.

The recommendations, released on Monday as a report titled “Building Prosperity with Economic, Social and Natural Capital”, was a summary of the discussions at meetings and workshops attended by participants of the 3rd Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development held at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, on November 25 to 26.

The forum was organised by Singapore-based events firm Global Initiatives in partnership with WWF Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Eco-Business.

Global Initiatives chief executive officer Tony Gourlay noted: “The forum was a hot bed for sharing corporate best practice and many of those innovative ideas are captured in this report.” 

Participants agreed that to expand prosperity, the current global economic model needs to be redesigned to cope with a growing population, the report said. And while alternative solutions exist, the key is to create the momentum to scale up those solutions through three overarching strategies.

These are: Businesses focusing on making sustainability the ‘new normal’; using procurement systems as a tool to grow the number of companies engaged in sustainable practices; and leveraging collaboration through public-private partnerships and business associations as a means to multiply the power of responsible business

Meanwhile, working groups, led by industry experts, outlined specific recommendations in six industries focused on ways to harness shared natural resources to build a sustainable and prosperous future. 

The key sectors included building and urban infrastructure; consumer goods; financial services; food, beverage and agriculture; power, utilities and renewable energy; and shipping.

Some recommendations which resonated in most of the sectors include:

  • Multinational firms should include small and medium enterprises and supply chain partners at all levels in the development of best practices
  • Increase efforts to harmonise sustainability data standards, outputs and measurements to make them more comprehensible and transparent
  • Provide greater incentives and penalties to drive transparency and encourage the adoption and growth of innovative solutions
  • Business leaders and chief sustainability officers should identify areas where government actions are required to solve issues that cannot be solved by businesses alone and become advocates for these actions
  • Establish platforms to educate the digital-savvy generation regarding their role on sustainability

“These expert recommendations should inspire positive and transformational changes to our currently unsustainable global economic model,” said Gourlay. 

Download the Responsible Business Forum 2014 outcome document here.

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