Creating Resilient Cities in the Anthropocene: New business models accelerate sustainable transformations in the private sector

This research from Sarah Burch and Jose Di Bella at Canada‘s University of Waterloo is titled “Business models for the Anthropocene: accelerating sustainability transformations in the private sector.”

ABSTRACT: The rapid pace and escalating severity of climate change impacts have made clear that current incremental approaches to pressing global socio-ecological challenges are insufficient to address the root causes of unsustainable development.

This has spurred increasing interest in the dynamics of transformation: the actors, capacities and resources needed to fundamentally shift development paths. The private sector is at the core of essential transformative processes necessary to build a future premised on environmental integrity, social inclusivity, and resilience.

The activities of the private sector are structured and driven by their underlying business model, which is at its core a set of assumptions about how a business creates, extracts and delivers value. Dominant conceptualizations of the business model remain a narrow imagining of how business interacts with societal processes and shape development patterns.

In this article, we call for the conceptualization and design of business models anchored in societal purpose and operating within planetary boundaries, apt for the Anthropocene.

We identify five building blocks for business models where transdisciplinary sustainability research can accelerate entrepreneurial activity that fosters desirable sustainable pathways by enabling the creation of new capabilities in support of broader transformational processes.

This article seeks to inform (and potentially re-orient the efforts of) transdisciplinary scholars engaging the private sector in the co-production of community-based sustainability and resilience-building initiatives.

Likewise, the building blocks provide a guide for businesses who aim to deepen their capacity to build new partnerships, identify, and incorporate new information on climate risk into their operations and develop practices, sequences and procedures oriented toward the sustainable development goals and disaster resilience.

Logo courtesy of TRANSFORM CITIES, based at the University of Waterloo.

Read full research paper (PDF).

See Transform Cities website.

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