Vision 2050 Refresh

In 2010, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) released Vision 2050, a landmark piece of work that laid out a pathway to a world in which nine billion people are able to live well, within the limits of the planet by mid-century. Recognizing that business cannot succeed in societies that fail, it explored what a sustainable world would look like by mid-century, how such a world could be realized, and the role that business has to play in making that vision a reality.

Although many of the concepts at the core of Vision 2050 have stood the test of time, inevitably, a number of topics have either increased in importance or emerged as critical new areas within the sustainable development landscape and beyond. Furthermore, the world in which business is operating continues to change: social tensions and environmental impacts are on the rise and fundamental questions are being asked about the role of business, and the economy as a whole, within society.

In March 2019, WBCSD launched a refresh of this respected piece of work. This new Vision 2050 Refresh project is bringing the original vision up to date and restating the baseline for business action and leadership for the decade to come. We are working to make systems transformation and the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals more clearly actionable, building an inspirational agenda for sustainable business, while also attempting to simplify an increasingly complex sustainability landscape.

Under the leadership of WBCSD’s Executive Committee, over three dozen member companies from 16 countries, representing more than ten industry sectors and with a combined USD $2 trillion in annual revenue, have signed up to lead this project. To help guide and inform these efforts, WBCSD has also assembled an external review committee comprised of a diverse collection of global thought-leaders and experts. The result is a collective, business-led effort to shape how business can help to unlock the transformations that are needed to allow over 9 billion people to live well, within the boundaries of the planet by mid-century.

Key focus areas

1. Exploring systems transformation

We are reviewing and synthesizing a broad range of emerging research and expert insight to establish a common understanding and vocabulary around how systems transform, what the key factors are that can help to enable and accelerate these transformations, and the role that business has to play.

2. Updating the Vision 2050 Pathway

Central to our efforts is the task of bringing the original Vision 2050 Pathway and its associated content up-to-date. This will involve identifying gaps, revisiting our pathway structure, and incorporating details on the latest science and emerging innovations on the road to 2050.

3. The 2020-2030 Operating Environment

In order to ensure that our Vision remains actionable, we are also exploring the most likely and disruptive trends that look set to shape our operating environment over the next ten years, and the impact these trends look set to have on the sustainable development agenda.

4. Transformation enablers (and barriers) 

Crucially, the project is also focusing on identifying and exploring key enablers (such as policy, finance, technology etc.) to transformation and how business can maximize its capacity to leverage these in support of our Vision.

5. Regional inputs

Finally, in order to ensure that our work is truly reflective of the global reality, we are conducting a series of workshops and consultations across a broad spectrum of geographies, testing the applicability of our research across a variety of local operating environments. 

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