Bridging the Gap: Towards Sustainable Growth
One of the toughest challenges that governments and companies face is encouraging economic growth in harmony with environmental and social goals rather than at their expense. This was the theme of a recent conference organized by Wharton and Turkey’s Sabanci University in partnership with the United Nations. This special report, which Knowledge at Wharton has prepared in collaboration with SRiMedia, covers several issues that came up at the conference, ranging from building sustainable startups to the impact of globalization in Africa.
Development experts have usually agreed that investment by the advanced industrial countries in developing economies holds the key to ending economic hardship for billions of people. But what kind of investments should these be? According to experts who spoke at the recent UN Global Compact conference at Wharton, the consensus has lately moved toward projects that deliver not just a profit but also environmental and social benefits.
Sustainable economic growth in the developing world no longer depends just on government aid: Often it is led by entrepreneurs fired by a vision that involves employing business skills to bring about social change. The UN Global Compact conference held at Wharton recently focused on three such ventures: an innovative cell phone service in Bangladesh; a nonprofit medical services delivery service in Mozambique; and a major multinational whose team found a way to deliver more productive hybrid corn to Mexico’s poorest farmers.
How crucial is it for companies to be mindful of the environment as they go about their business? And does environmental certification mean a company actually pollutes less? An executive from GlaxoSmithKline, the drug giant, and a professor from Duke University offered their perspectives on these issues at the recent UN Global Compact Academic Conference held at Wharton.
Globalization has created a paradox in Africa: A few Africans are thriving, but the continent as a whole seems to be falling further behind the rest of the world. Companies and aid organizations will have to change their ways of doing business if globalization is to deliver the kind of economic growth in Africa that it has in places such as China and India, according to panelists at the United Nations Global Compact conference held in Philadelphia recently.