Marketplace Sustainability at BITC: Our narrative and our emerging offer

This report was distributed at the Marketplace Sustainability Summit during Responsible Business Week. If you're not a member, please see the Marketplace Sustainability programme for more details.
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BITC is about giving access to great lives to as many people as possible. We share that ambition with other groups, companies and individuals around the world. The challenge is making the numbers add up - success means 7 billion people today and 9 billion by 2050 living quality lives. This requires us to transform how we make, supply and market our products and how citizens choose to live their lives. This can be overwhelming - but with the right thinking, tests and delivery we believe each business can make an important and unique contribution and by doing so enhance the value and resilience of their business.

This member's only report contains an updated briefing on the Marketplace Sustainability programme, the Be the Start Campaign, and inspiration and calls to action for a sustainable future. It also outlines the 9 billion challenge, and the threats and opportunities this represents.

The 9 billion challenge

We have a requirement as business leaders to genuinely take a longer-term perspective and to think more transformationally about our businesses. Today we are all geared towards and rewarded for improving the current business model and this makes it incredibly hard to conceive of a new business model. It is critical that we find the time and space to think differently, for this is a big challenge for business. Thinking about how the world will look in 2050 and thinking about the business in the context of global mega trends – such as resource constraints and consumer engagement via technology – is important and exciting. If CEO’s and Chairs are not thinking about this, no one else is going to.

- Ian Cheshire,
Group CEO, Kingfisher Plc
We live in a world where it is easier to collaborate than it ever has been before. We also live in a world where we need to collaborate more than ever before. We know that there aren’t enough resources to supply the 7 billion lives being lived around the world right now. In fact, we’d need three planets’ worth to give everyone a decent quality of life.

By 2050, there will be 9 billion people in the world. It is clear we have to transform the way we provide quality lifestyles to serve the 7 billion today and the 9 billion consumers projected for tomorrow. We need to find a way to secure our future by finding and testing new ways to do business. We call this the 9 billion challenge.

What we mean by quality lives is a critical factor for what businesses need to deliver and how, as citizens, we need to live. People’s lifestyles and the way the products and services they use are engineered must change to ensure accessibility for all 9 billion and the protection of the natural systems that business and citizens ultimately rely on for both raw materials and wellbeing. 

We have 37 years to unlock talent, rethink new ways of working, test new business models and deliver new ways of working across the globe. We can get much more from supply chains by making existing supply chains more efficient, but we will get much more by completely redesigning the product or service. BITC has spent the last 30 years convening diverse disciplines to improve how business works with the community that it serves.

It is now time to spend the next 30 years collaborating with the business community to think, test and deliver new ways of providing sustainable business. It’s not about re-imagining everything. Instead we will focus on bringing leaders together, to help each other make practical changes in the way they, their customers and their businesses run in the future.

Our research shows…

76% of business leaders know they will need a different business model to ensure that they are fit for the future, while only 17% have business plans that look beyond ten years.

Those with longer term planning horizons recognise that new and different ways of working are needed.

Business in the Community Leadership Research (Nov 2011).

More content is available but you must be a member of BITC or a partner of the programme to access it.
Log-in for access, Become a member