Circular economy: necessary next step in developing sustainable growth business models

Summary of the contribution of professor Jan Peter Balkenende Ph.D, partner Corporate Responsibility at EY, former PM of the Netherlands.

Last year saw the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals and the COP21 climate conference, which gave the world new targets. We know that today’s consumption and production patterns are unsustainable and business has a key role to play – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that we will never reach our targets without the private sector.

While companies used to quote Milton Friedman’s maxim that “the business of business is business” today they reference Michael Porter’s view that business should create shared value.

So what is new? Firstly, growth at all costs is no longer acceptable – today the focus is on sustainable growth. Secondly, it is now possible to make the business case for sustainable growth. Studies have shown that more sustainable companies have a better return on investment. But business has to back up its good intentions – measurement and reporting is crucial.

If you want to be successful in the 21st century, you must be innovative and sustainable.