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Week of 01 20 2017

Last week brought more bad news in relation to climate (warmest year on record) and to income inequality (8 men as rich as half the world). However, business has a crucial role to play in addressing these issues and it can make higher profits by doing this. (JHN)

U.S. Scientists Officially Declare 2016 the Hottest Year on Record. (The Washington Post)

“Two leading U.S. science agencies jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which itself had topped a record set in 2014.

Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015 and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s records began in 1880.

NASA concurred with NOAA, also declaring 2016 the warmest year on record. NASA also noted that since the year 2001, the planet has seen “16 of the 17 warmest years on record.”

‘Obscene’ Inequality: Oxfam Says 8 Men as Rich as Half the World (StarTribune)

The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, from Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people, according to an analysis by anti-poverty organization, Oxfam.

Oxfam used Forbes’ billionaires list that was last published in March 2016 to make its headline claim. According to the Forbes list, Microsoft founder Gates is the richest individual with a net worth of $75 billion. The others, in order of ranking, are Amancio Ortega, the Spanish founder of fashion house Inditex, financier Warren Buffett, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.

It’s because of this kind of inequality that trust in institutions has fallen sharply…according to Edelman, one of the world’s biggest marketing firms. In its own survey…, Edelman found the largest-ever drop in trust across government, business, media and even non-governmental organizations. CEO credibility is at an all-time low and government leaders are the least trusted group, according to the survey. The firm’s 2017 Trust Barometer found that 53 percent of respondents believe the current system has failed them in that it is unfair and offers few hopes for the future, with only 15 percent believing it is working. That belief was evident for both the general population and those with college education.

UN Chief Guterres Calls Businesses ‘Best Allies’ to Curb Climate Change, Poverty (UN News Center)

“Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for a new generation of partnerships with the business community to limit the impact of climate change and to reduce poverty.

He spoke about the Paris Agreement…with the aim of combating climate change by limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius. ‘The best allies of all those that want to make sure that the Paris Agreement is implemented…are probably in the business sector and it is very important to fully mobilize them.’

He also underlined the importance of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, noting that conditions for an inclusive and sustainable development are a main method of preventing crises and conflicts. He said that a calculation that was recently made shows that the returns on investments that can be generated by the full implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals would mean something in the order of magnitude of $30 billion per year.

A new platform of partnerships would not only aid the current goals, but address the challenges of the future…to bring ‘fantastic increase in the well-being of people’.”

Sustainable Business Can Unlock $12T Globally, Create Millions of Jobs (Sustainable Brands)

“A new report by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission points to sustainable business models as the key to unlocking US$12 trillion in economic opportunities and creating up to 380 million jobs a year by 2030…Putting Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of the world’s economic strategy could unleash a step-change in growth and productivity, with an investment boom in sustainable infrastructure as a critical driver.

At the heart of the Commission’s argument are the Sustainable Development Goals — 17 objectives to eliminate poverty, improve education and health outcomes, create better jobs and tackle our key environmental challenges by 2030.

The report, Better Business, Better World, reveals 60 sustainable and inclusive market “hot spots” in just four key economic areas could create at least US$12 trillion, worth over 10% of today’s GDP. The breakdown of the four areas and their potential values are: Energy (US$4.3 trillion; Cities US$3.7 trillion; Food & Agriculture US $2.3 trillion; and Health & Well-Being US$1.8 trillion…These ‘hot spots’ have the potential to grow 2-3 times faster than average GDP over the next 10-15 years.