Reporter Kate Ryan of Thomson Reuters, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, wrote a note on the three major threats to the world’s population that pose a risk to both business and governance. These are: obesity, malnutrition and climate change.
It is important to analyze these three threats, since they are linked together. The world food industry has developed processes for the mass production of food that increases the caloric content to the detriment of nutritional quality. Mass production, in turn, is the largest source of carbon emissions, and will continue to be so if it does not move towards sustainable agricultural and distribution practices.
The World Obesity Federation estimates that 815 million people suffer from obesity (approximately 10% of the world population) and that four million deaths occur each year related to this disease. In addition, the food industry has great lobbying power thanks to the high demand for processed foods. This power is used to obtain subsidies that could be used to fund investments in renewable energies.
In turn, the lack of investment in sustainable practices contributes to climate change, the third threat pointed out by Kate Ryan. Climate change presents a very high risk to ecology, and such is the degree of risk, that studies have been conducted to determine if the effects of climate change are causing problems for the sustainability of many communities.
There is evidence that, despite not being the source of social conflicts, climate change is a factor that increases the possibility of conflict in regions that have suffered from historical tensions. Some examples, explained in the article “Water Wars” by The Independent , are: China vs. China. India, for disputes over the Brahmaputra River; Israel vs. Jordan and Palestine, for claims to the first on water supply cuts during droughts; and Egypt vs. Ethiopia, due to water shortage due to rapid population growth.
These big threats are macro trends. A macro trend is a generalized and structural change that affects a system, but not necessarily to each of its parts. If we think of the world as a system, the macro trends represent global changes without having immediate effects on each of its parts: companies and individuals.
Macro trends do not affect the operations of companies in the short or medium term. But the analysis of very long-term trends is also important for the survival of business organizations. Each company has its own unique system to meet its business goals, so -individually- seem to be disconnected from global changes. But if companies try to analyze their position within a globalized aggregate of economic actors, they can anticipate future changes in consumption, demographic and socio-cultural patterns. Anticipate allows innovation. And to innovate, in such a changing world, allows us to survive. Also, remember that we all must assume the commitment to comply with the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations.