“…A crazy idea that there can be unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources”, says Jane Goodall at a recent event, ‘Hope for Our Home’, a Sustainability Summit 2022 organized by Procter and Gamble. Repercussions of economic development for environment are indisputable. It is no longer true that the effects may be felt down the road; the impact of economic activity on the planet is already being felt strongly in the present.
The growing frequency of severe weather events, be it in temperatures falling to record-breaking levels in coastal city of Karachi; or soaring temperatures in cities such as Toronto; or dangerous levels of smog and air quality index in Lahore; all are glaring examples of nature communicating its disdain for the cost of human ‘success’ through economic growth.
Earlier this year, scientists at COP-26 pointed out that failure to address climate change may result in global GDP contraction by one-sixth. Consensus has also emerged in the international community that the onus of combatting climate change must fall on developed nations as these emitted carbons much earlier than the rest of the world. The developing and least developed nations cannot face the devastation from climate change alone.
The nexus of climate and food security also requires emphasis, especially in the developing world. One-fifth of Pakistan’s population continues to be malnourished. Going forward, climate change poses a significant risk to Pakistan’s fight against food insecurity due to its impact on agricultural productivity. A failure in fight against climate change will only further exacerbate Pakistan’s infant mortality rate, which is already one of the highest in the world.
Dr Jane Goodall argued that in order to preserve the planet, poverty alleviation must remain top of the agenda. This means that economic exchange should continue to uphold low-cost production processes, even as consumer awareness on environmental impact increases. Therefore, multinational giants with the means to shift production processes, conduct research, and economies of scale must produce sustainable products at affordable prices.
Although several companies and organizations are already working towards sustainable processes, the gravity of the challenge warrants a more rigorous approach from the wider global business community.