advertisement
advertisement
  • 01.24.17

There Are Big Opportunities In The World’s Big Challenges

From the blockchain helping developing markets to using soil as a solution to climate change–what innovations will be sparked by the biggest dangers to society?

In every threat to the planet, there’s a potential opportunity either to avert that threat or mitigate its impact. Take climate change. Rising seas and deeper droughts are enormous long-term risks, but there’s also opportunities for new infrastructure and different types of agriculture, innovations forced by the risk

advertisement

A new report does a lot of this type of reframing, essentially taking the World Economic Forum’s recent risk report and turning it on its ahead. It sets out five risks–unstable regions, soil depletion, inequality, climate change’s impact on cities, and cyber conflicts. Then it shows these are new businesses if companies were so inclined to see them that way.

Inequality might be tackled by developing new blockchain-based businesses, for instance. The decentralized ledger technology, which first came to prominence with bitcoin, enables peer to peer trading in a secure way that reduces transaction costs. It could give people “access loans, insurance, finance, and other vital elements of the economy,” the report says (in fact, it already is). “African markets can be expected to leapfrog into the next digital era defined by a blockchain-based internet.”

Another example: soil depletion caused by intensive farming. The issue is key to food security and to climate change (there’s an estimated 2,300 gigatons of carbon stored in the top three meters of the world’s soil). Solutions include growing crops without soil, adding supplements like “good” bacteria and fungus, and “moisture tech” that allows soil to retain water for longer.

The report comes from Norwegian consultants DNV GL, the Sustainia think tank, and the United Nations Global Compact corporate sustainability initiative and is based on a survey of 5,500 “global leaders.” See more here.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

More

Video