Resource Revolution

This month (November 2011) McKinsey & Company released their Sustainability & Resource Productivity Practice report ‘Resource Revolution: Meeting the world’s energy, materials, food and water needs‘. In it, McKinsey stress achievable targets of water, energy and food wastage reduction by 2030, based on today’s market trends and values.

It pleases me to see a leading consultancy firm quantitatively assess the impact of the modern lifestyle we’ve come to take for granted.

In the 20th century, governments and businesses didn’t have to worry about resource productivity; they could focus on capital and labor. Over the next 20 years, resources must be at the heart of public policy and business strategy.

I couldn’t agree more. And not just the next twenty years; longer life expectancy, more collective memory (history) and greater connectivity (thanks, interwebs!) has meant we, as individuals, have to care more on a longer time scale. Investments are not primarily for a year or two anymore, the environment (including humans) wont start to produce valuable returns for 10, 20, 50+ years. It’s not just about local communities either, though action at this level is absolutely crucial, global due-diligence is key to a more sustainable and ever-changing world whether you value money or nature. The two are increasing intertwined.

The importance of a report like McKinsey’s is symbolically more significant than the results or even the recommendations themselves. It declares a game over for the argument between conservatives and liberals – global climate change, resource management and population growth – these are all actualities we must now plan for if we are to sustain the enriched lives continue to desire.

It would worry me when news-hour TV economists were just as knowledgeable about “Green” issues as leading environmentalists and scientists, but now we’re all analyzing the debate with commendable solutions so that policy-makers and corporations have the opportunity to create change that matters.

You can watch the abbreviated interactive version of this report or download the entire report itself from McKinsey’s website.