Conservation | April 7, 2017

What will business look like in the resource-scarce future?

The team at



Projections about the billions of people set to join the global middle class by 2030 (it’s three billion) are often linked to estimates of growth in consumer spending (including on ImpactAlpha).

But there’s a catch, says the World Resources Institute. “Current consumption patterns, even assuming efficiency improvements, put the global economy on an impossible trajectory.” Based on projects, by 2050, we would use three times as many natural resources as we use today — and we’re already exceeding our planetary boundaries.

A new paper from WRI, The Elephant in the Boardroom: Why Unchecked Consumption is Not an Option in Tomorrow’s Markets, warns what countless business executives fear, that “many of today’s business models are not fit for tomorrow’s resource-strained world.” In other words, don’t bet on selling more stuff to more people.

WRI calls on companies “to normalize” the conversation about resource constraints, and 1) Do the math and be honest about their dependency on natural resources; 2) Take the lead and talk openly with key stakeholders about resource limitations; and 3) Begin to transform their business models to succeed in a resource-strained world.

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