Economic Developers: You have a large role to play in the planet's future (Hey, no pressure.)
You may already know that a country's sustainability progress can be measured by how many of the 17 SDGs (Sustainability Development Goals) they have met.
So, how is the world doing?
Well, 19 of the 20 countries furthest along in developing sustainability are in Europe. The United States comes in at #32.
The SDGs were set up in 2015 by the UN General Assembly and are intended to be achieved by 2030 – but unless aliens from a vastly more advanced planet arrive and supernaturally transform how our world works, it's not looking great. In fact, it wasn't looking good even before COVID-19 stalled or reversed progress.
It's true that compared to a decade ago, more people around the world have access to better healthcare, decent work, and education than ever before. But inequalities and climate change are threatening to undo the gains.
Here's the good news — perhaps even the most important news for our planet's future:
Investment in sustainable economies can unleash significant opportunities for shared prosperity.
That statement should be a mantra for virtually every company, non-profit, and university – and particularly for economic development organizations.
Sustainability policies are taking hold in many places. China, Japan, and the European Union have announced targets to achieve net-zero emissions, and more than 110 countries, accounting for more than 70% of global GDP, have made net-zero pledges. 23 U.S. states have established emissions-reduction goals and 12 have instituted carbon-pricing policies.
Many CEOs are broadening their view of corporate purpose to look beyond profit — weighing financial interest against its social and environmental costs and effects. Meanwhile, less economic development companies are basing their target industries on historical trends, recognizing that global commerce has become much more dynamic and forward-looking.
Further, many experts predict that the current crisis in Ukraine has the potential to accelerate Europe’s trend toward renewables, as it seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. This could include increased efforts to shift to interdependent renewable generation, such as offshore wind farms shared by multiple European nations.
Proudly doing our part.
PM&P has a strong track record in promoting regions to innovative companies in the fields of energy and environmental technology, such as hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, recycling, energy storage, renewables, EV battery technologies and many more.
In 2020 we became the first consultancy to develop a strategy in the U.S. for a specific renewable energy industry, positioning Hampton Roads, Virginia as the premier destination for offshore wind companies.
In the coal-dependent Lausitz region of Germany, we identified industries and companies to help transition the area to a more future-oriented and sustainable economy, including determining what programs the government should create to educate the workforce to move beyond coal mining.
Back to the U.S., and its not-so-impressive #32 ranking among countries working to save the planet — the hard work will have to be done at the state and regional levels. But we're happy to say that having met and worked with hundreds of high-quality economic development professionals in the U.S., we’re optimistic.
And we're ready when you are.