20 yrs

The next 20 years in responsible business.

Corporate Citizenship Ltd. has drawn on its futures database to consider what might be the most significant developments for responsible business in the next twenty years. We also worked with Dr. Tim Jones of Future Agenda, providing a suitable context to how we need to change as an organisation to better support our clients.

The following is one possible future we can envisage…

2020s

  • Globalisation continues despite backlash and growing nationalist sentiment. In the UK, new social and environmental regulations, including human rights legislation and policies to tackle climate change, come into effect following the withdrawal from the European Union.
  • The US goes back to the polls for Presidential elections. Climate change emerges as one of the prominent points of discussion and a key dividing factor in the Presidential campaigns.
  • Rapid growth in emerging markets challenges traditional institutions and business models. New multinationals from developing nations prompt a broader understanding of responsible and sustainable business practices, seen from different cultural perspectives.
  • As Millennials hit middle age, “conscious consumption”, in which consumers only buy products that demonstrate responsibility throughout the value chain, becomes the mainstream. This trend forces companies to be transparent on their value chain impacts and actively improve their corporate responsibility record.
  • Satellite and drone technology is used to monitor and validate scientific findings in areas previously deemed inaccessible, adding to mounting evidence on ecological impacts collected by governments, communities and corporations.
  • Businesses and regulators increasingly introduce formal quotas required for gender, racial and ethnic diversity, but the pace of change continues to frustrate campaigners.
  • Companies increasingly utilise big data and information about customers, exacerbating fears over data privacy and cybersecurity. Misuse of customer information by corporates and a failure to provide adequate protection leads to corporate scandals. Consumers demand greater responsibility in the use of data by corporates.
  • Air quality as a health issue forces governments around the world to take firmer action on polluting activities. This has the secondary positive effect of tackling climate change with policy turning towards energy efficiency and clean energies. More companies follow France & UK in setting targets for electric car use by 2040. Click here to read more

2030s

  • The deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is reached with mixed results. Global ambition to meet the remaining social and environmental challenges and to tackle new emerging issues is high with new long-term goals being established.
  • Developed nations are forced to adapt to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing workforce, and businesses invest in re-skilling older workers. Ageing populations combined with new emerging health fears surrounding antibiotic resistant bacteria create new public health and business challenges.
  • With extreme pressures on resources and intensified impacts of climate change there will be greater calls for companies to pay the ‘true cost’ of their environmental impacts. Demand for a global price on carbon back on the table.
  • Peak oil and the increasing cost-competitiveness of renewables spur the transition away from fossil fuels and towards a low-carbon economy.
  • The rise of blockchain technology creates new products and services whilst also providing a new tool for consumers to find information about products, driving deeper corporate transparency.
  • Institutional investors fully integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into their portfolio management, leading to widespread reallocation of investment towards sustainable and low carbon opportunities.
  • Secure long-term employment gives way to automation, AI (artificial intelligence) and a growing “gig economy”, posing questions around the role of corporates as job-creators and the rights different types of workers should have. Regulators will attempt to keep pace with fast-moving technological advances, including the possibility of income tax for robot workers.