October 2020

Discover How These Emerging Issues Will Shape Sustainable Business




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Photo credit: Daniel Olah

2020 has shown us just how quickly the world can change.

The global pandemic, its economic impacts, and the movement to end systemic racism have challenged the ways we think about work, health, and social responsibility.

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As we adapt to the new reality, many have asked:

Was it possible to predict such paradigm-shifting events?

And if so, what other emerging issues should business leaders of today prepare for to ensure survival—and success—in the future?

For a business to be resilient and sustainable, it needs to see the world more clearly.

The companies that thrive will be the ones that anticipate and plan for changes that could disrupt business as we know it.

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The BSR Sustainable Futures Lab has identified seven emerging issues with the power to reshape sustainable business over the next five to ten years. Discover how they will impact you, your company, and the society of the future.


The Robots Are Coming

Is this the moment the robots have been waiting for? COVID-19 is accelerating automation—driven by concerns about business continuity, social distancing, and corporate restructuring. These factors could create a tipping point in the replacement of human labor by machines.

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The Virtual Becomes Reality

Welcome to your new life online. Although the promise of the virtual world has been touted for many years now, COVID-19 has compelled employers, educational institutions, and others to abruptly embrace a shift to the virtual. This will prove advantageous to some and deeply problematic for others.

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Your Data for Your Life

How much of your private data would you be willing to trade for a return to normal? While earlier debates around data privacy focused primarily on its use in marketing and surveillance, the COVID-19 crisis promises to significantly alter the conversation.

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No Recovery without Women

Without women’s participation, can the economy truly recover? After decades of gradual gains, women’s role in the economy is now threatened by the COVID-19 crisis—as it compounds existing barriers and confronts women with the brunt of its economic and social impacts.

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The Kids Are Not Alright

Could the COVID-19 crisis create a “lost generation” of young people? The economic and social fallout of the pandemic is disproportionately impacting youth—as jobs for new college graduates evaporate, school is disrupted, and developmentally critical socialization among children is curtailed.

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More Migrants with Nowhere to Go

What happens when people have simply nowhere to go? The climate crisis, economic disruption, and political unrest are causing the number of migrants and refugees to swell globally. At the same time, COVID-19 has prompted countries to shut the door to outsiders of all kinds.

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Reimagining Cities

Could COVID-19 change the face of the world’s cities? Although many measures being taken to address COVID-19 may be temporary, we should also anticipate long-term changes as the pandemic reshapes our physical and mental landscapes.

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The Fast
Forward

BSR Sustainable Futures Lab

The Fast Forward, a quarterly publication produced by the BSR Sustainable Futures Lab, explores emerging issues at the nexus of business and sustainability. Each edition will focus on nascent trends that are likely to disrupt the operating context of the future and that will require a robust and forward-looking sustainability strategy to navigate.

About BSR Sustainable Futures Lab

BSR’s Sustainable Futures Lab helps businesses navigate an increasingly turbulent world by creating more resilient and sustainable strategies. The Sustainable Futures Lab was created to enable foresight-driven engagement with disruptive change in order to help businesses spot emerging issues early, explore different possible futures, and develop more resilient and sustainable strategies.

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