Welcome to the

A new era for business development

Over the past 70 years, we have gone from being a small world on a big planet to becoming a big world on a small planet. While some have prospered during this transformation, it has come at a significant cost. Our economic system now threatens the fundamental functions of our planet, and we are confronted with unparalleled sustainability challenges. This era is known as the Anthropocene—the geological era of humankind.

In the Anthropocene, environmental, social, and technological trends all follow exponential patterns. This creates a hyperconnected and ambiguous world that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Many business models that have been successful in the past are quickly becoming outdated in this new context.

Business in the Anthropocene


As with all major transformations, there are big business opportunities in the upcoming shift to sustainable business. Every company must ascend the mountain and overcome the challenges that lie ahead. This requires a new mindset. Those who successfully make it will be well-positioned to embrace the future and secure larger market shares.

Common challenges on the way up the mountain:

  • Disruption of value chains
  • Regulations
  • Employee expectations
  • Customer expectations
For those who recognize that the Anthropocene is already upon us and can decipher the interrelated trends surrounding us, there exists a multitude of opportunities for sustainable business development.

Why our time is unique

The charts below illustrate the most significant transformation in human history regarding industrial impacts on our planet. They showcase the progression of 24 social, economic, and biophysical trends from the industrial revolution to the present day.

In the past two generations, our world population has nearly tripled, the global economy has grown tenfold, and mobile banking services, which barely existed a decade ago, now reach 1.75 billion people worldwide. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere, which remained steady at 280 ppm or less, have surged to over 415 ppm since the Industrial Revolution. We currently produce over 2 billion tons of waste annually worldwide, and our rate of species extinction has reached levels not seen since the era of dinosaurs.

Looking at the charts, a striking pattern emerges—a rapid acceleration in all areas, intensifying from the 1950s onwards. This phenomenon is known as the “great acceleration.” The cumulative impact of this accelerating change defines the Anthropocene, and its implications for business development are profound.

Adapted from Steffen et al. 2015: The trajectory of the Anthropocene: the great acceleration, by Enfors-Kautsky 2019.

Changing rules of the game


The Anthropocene is reshaping the business landscape, making sustainability the “industrial revolution” of our era. Three key trends in the private sector underscore this transformation:

Disruption of production and value chains

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, disruptions in value chains have become a pressing challenge. These disruptions may result from factors like production interruptions, geopolitical conflicts, and ecological crises, significantly affecting businesses’ ability to deliver products and services. To navigate these challenges effectively, companies must adopt agile and resilient strategies, diversify their supplier base, and invest in digital technologies to enhance supply chain transparency and flexibility.

Radical increase in regulation

Businesses are entering a new era of heightened regulation across industries. Governments and regulatory bodies are imposing stricter rules and standards to address sustainability concerns. This increased regulation necessitates that organisations proactively comply with evolving laws, staying ahead of the regulatory curve to maintain a competitive advantage and gain larger shares of rapidly emerging markets.

New market forces

Today’s employees and customers hold higher expectations for the companies they work for and buy from, particularly regarding social and ecological sustainability. To meet these new expectations, businesses must prioritise science-based sustainability and employee well-being, embrace corporate social responsibility, and invest in technology that enhances customer engagement and satisfaction. Meeting these new expectations can lead to increased loyalty and long-term success.

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