Climate change, water shortages, biodiversity loss will have growing impacts on global business: UN report

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Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director UN Environment Programme. UNEP photo.

From extreme weather events, to rising pressures on finite natural resources, changes in the global environment will increasingly impact operating costs, markets for products, the availability of raw materials, and the reputation of businesses, from finance and tourism, to healthcare and transport.

This is just one of the main findings of a new report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and SustainAbility on Friday, entitled “GEO-5 for Business: Impacts of a Changing Environment on the Corporate Sector”.

Another finding says the future of the private sector will increasingly hinge on the ability of businesses to adapt to the world's rapidly changing environment and to develop goods and services that can reduce the impacts of climate change, water scarcity, emissions of harmful chemicals and other environmental concerns.

Yet another finding notes that while the risks are significant, such environmental changes also represent major opportunities for businesses that successfully manage them, and seize the demand for sustainable technologies, investments and services.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner says "GEO-5 for Business is in many ways a prospectus for the 21st century company—one that internalizes how rapid and accelerating environmental change will shape risks, but also the need and demand for new sustainable products and market opportunities".

The new report is based on UNEP's “Global Environment Outlook” (GEO-5); the UN's most comprehensive assessment of the state of the global environment. According to that report, human pressures on the global environment mean that several critical environmental thresholds are approaching, or have already been surpassed, beyond which abrupt changes to the life-support functions of the planet could occur.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’41″

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