The 9 billion challenge

By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on the planet. We know that there aren’t enough resources to supply the 7 billion lives being lived around the world right now. In fact, if we continue with business as usual, we would need three planets’ worth of resources by 2050.

Rising consumption of scarce natural resources, increased costs of raw materials and environmental constraints all contribute to this problem and put pressure on companies’ everyday operations and supply chains.

At the same time consumer values are shifting. Information is readily created and shared in seconds, trust is at an all-time low and expectations for transparency are higher than ever.

Sustainable lives

Faced with these challenges, there is a compelling need for companies to innovate and accelerate progress. To deliver 9 billion high-quality, sustainable lives by 2050, we must unlock talent, rethink ways of working, test new business models and deliver new ways of working across the globe.

The opportunity

And in doing so, we believe businesses can find significant opportunities – for growth, for reduced costs, for improved customer loyalty, better risk management and many other direct benefits.

Research from Accenture shows that UK businesses could unlock around £100 billion a year in value from new innovation opportunities that address social and environmental challenges.

Big Boardroom Agenda

Business in the Community is working with companies to help them think about, test and deliver new models for sustainable business. Our Big Boardroom Agenda sets out the key questions every business needs to answer to start this journey and this website provides detailed information and approaches for tackling them. We will expand the site with further material and resources over the coming months.

We hope you find this a valuable resource and welcome your feedback.


Next steps

  • Find out more about this toolkit

  • THINK: Identify the new products, services and business models that will help your company adapt to a world that must support 9 billion sustainable lifestyles by 2050.

  • TEST: The next step is to test the best new product, service or business model at a scale that is large enough to learn from without being too large to fail.

  • DELIVER: How can leaders drive scale and transition from incremental improvement to a truly sustainable business?

In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly resource constrained world - which will need to provide for 9 billion people by 2050 – it has never been more important for companies of all sizes to understand how and why sustainability is central to their long-term success and prosperity.

- Stephen Howard,
Chief Executive, Business in the Community

We need to move away from CSR and transform our businesses to be better aligned with sustainability as a core goal.

- Steven Holliday,
Chief Executive, National Grid