Production is the beating heart of commerce. But it is a double-edged sword, supplying necessities and amenities for humanity while depleting the global commons that sustain life on earth. Our aim in the Accelerating Sustainable
Production project is to leverage production as a tool for meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as a source for business competitiveness. The opportunities for doing so have expanded with the advent
of Fourth Industrial Revolution technology – an ecosystem that holds a dizzying amount of innovation across digital, physical and biological spheres. As the volume of innovation explodes, the cost of advanced technologies is plummeting.
Consider genome sequencing: the first human genome cost $2.7 billion to sequence; today, it costs $1,000.
The combined effects of technology and its free-falling cost are accelerating progress exponentially. But which will play the bigger role in impacting SDGs and boosting business competitiveness? That is the central question of this White Paper and the work conducted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture. In this paper, we examine technological advancements as leverage points (or obstacles) for achieving sustainable production from cradle to factory gate. The result is something entirely new – a framework, by industry, for prioritizing innovation wrought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Such a framework helps quantify the potential for sustainable value creation so that governments and businesses can design their growth strategies accordingly. It also enables them to scale their contribution towards the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thus enhancing economic and industry competitiveness.
This collaborative effort demonstrates how to harness the technological progress of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for sustainable innovation and value creation in four manufacturing industries and across major global regions. We started our work with these sectors and geographies because they serve as solid examples for exploring the sustainability agenda from the perspective of production systems.
Our ambition is to put the findings and assets to use in a government-mandated pilot on sustainable production value assessment. Looking ahead to our vision for the third year of the project, our objective is to work towards the scoping of onthe-ground interventions based on regional in-depth analyses.
Head of Future of Production System Initiative,
Member of the Executive Committee,
World Economic Forum
Chief Strategy Officer,