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"Sustainable Development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

– Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Director General of WHO

For access BoP, sustainable development means partnership with developing country clients and venture partners in meeting the extreme challenges encountered in developing countries. The top five challenges are:

  1. Poverty, with its attendant pressures on the environment and constraints on affordability of marketed products and services
  2. Poor infrastructure, (power, water, waste treatment, health care, transport etc.)
  3. Environments that have been destabilized or stressed by drought and flood
  4. Historically low priorities placed on environmental issues, and a local culture of resignation towards sustainability, where economic survival comes first
  5. A history of colonial exploitation and irresponsible resource management

The real challenge facing us as enterprise partners, is to come up with a compelling case for our clients and partners to embrace sustainability over cost-reduction. It is not a simple cease of sacrificing profits to save the polar bears, but one of risking enterprise viability to protect the future health, economic and environmental sustainability of their country.

Example of sustainability challenge:
An example of the sort of tough decision we must guide our partners through is bottling versus point of use water supply. The only cost effective way to save lives and to improve the health and wellbeing of clean-water-starved rural poor, in South East Asia and Africa is to launch a large-scale, low-cost bottling enterprise and sell very cheap bottles of purified water to replace bottled tap water which is currently available at great health risk and barely supportable prices.

The water must be clean and it must reach the BoP consumer for a few cents per liter. The problem is that the power consumption, fossil-based plastics consumption, carbon footprint from distributing by truck, and massive pollution load from discarded PET bottles will place a very real strain on an already stressed environment.

Renewable energy solutions can generate power, but the power can't be stored or integrated with grid supply, so fossil fuel power-plants may be necessary.

Point of use purification, clean water storage evolutions or piping infrastructure may be attractive, environmentally, but solving the last-mile problem in dispersed rural populations would be crippling, without massive infrastructure support.

Solving challenges like this is a large part of the Access BoP mission.
Only by ambitious partnerships and Inclusive Market innovation can we begin to present a solution that can compete with the bottom line realities that drive decisions like this. We will need to subsidize biodegradable bottles, or better yet, subsidize innovative, non-container distribution strategies to enable even the most philanthropic or responsible partner to veer from the path of least resistance (bootless, trucks and fossil fuel power).

Our goals, as a sustainable development partner, are to:

» find cost effective ways to implement sustainable solutions when serving developing country clients and venture partners

» create inclusive BoP business opportunities around sustainability - eco business, renewable energy, recycling industries etc.

» leverage global support to bring outside funding, resources, technologies and strategies to bear on our sustainability initiatives