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Why shared principles and collective action are the building blocks of a sustainable, global economy

Achieving a global, sustainable and inclusive economy is no small feat.

Achieving a global, sustainable and inclusive economy is no small feat. Image: Mastercard

Michael Froman
Vice Chairman, Mastercard.
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • A sustainable and inclusive economy is possible through deciding on shared principles and driving forward technological innovations.
  • Vulnerable people and communities need collective action to protect their lives and livelihoods.
  • Mastercard is focused on connecting the ‘why’ of its purpose to the ‘what’ of its strategy to build a more inclusive world.

Keng Sreymom, 36, lives with her aunt in one of the floating villages on Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in southeast Asia. For centuries, thousands of Cambodian families have lived and worked here. The country depends on their work which yields 500,000 tons of fish in a typical year and provides more than two-thirds of the protein in Cambodian’s diet. The combined effects of deforestation, climate change, upstream hydropower dams and overfishing have dramatically reduced the region’s fish populations over the past few years and threaten the region and livelihood of its residents.

Keng is part of a Tonle Sap reforestation initiative focused on regrowing Tonle Sap’s gallery forest by engaging the local community in planting and sustainable sourcing efforts. The effort, driven by Conservation International, aims to restore over 200,000 trees across 1,260 acres while sustainably supporting a crucial $2 billion fishing industry.

The initiative contributes to an increasingly urgent global mission to combat climate change by curbing carbon emissions and restoring natural landscapes. The need is especially important in Cambodia, because of its vulnerability to climate change. Projects like this one can help ensure Tonle Sap remains a lifeline for the Cambodian people.

Restoration and growth of an inclusive economy through collaboration

Conservation International is one of two environmental nonprofits guiding landscape restoration strategy for Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition, a consortium of more than 100 organizations combating climate change and global deforestation. The coalition’s goal is to restore 100 million trees by 2025 in at-risk areas worldwide, and earlier this week announced Tonle Sap would be among 15 new projects across six continents.

Keng’s story highlights the intrinsic connection between people and the planet, reinforcing the notion that one cannot prosper without the other. It also reinforces the opportunity that with intentional action we can solve for increasing climate pressures like those on Tonle Sap and support the local community and economy. But time is of the urgency.

In the context of climate, health, security, food, and economic crises, promoting prosperity is a concept that might seem aspirational. But building a foundation of a sustainable and inclusive economy where everyone has an opportunity to prosper has never been more necessary, or more challenging.

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Shared principles and an inclusive economy

The latest reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have sounded the alarm as to the urgency of dealing with the climate crisis. And in the coming weeks we’ll see the results of the World Bank’s Findex report, which will shine a light on the progress that’s been made toward greater financial inclusion — and highlight areas where more needs to be done. But we must not look at these as separate and distinct efforts.

Achieving a global, sustainable and inclusive economy is no small feat. It is work that requires the collective action, commitment and collaboration of the public, private and civil sectors.

It’s for this reason that Mastercard has been focused on connecting the ‘why’ of our purpose to the ‘what’ of our fundamental business strategy so we can deliver long-term growth for our shareholders, build trust with stakeholders, and contribute to a more equitable and prosperous world.

Only by leveraging the experience and expertise of each sector can we hope to deliver greater societal impact. It requires collaboration like that achieved through the Edison Alliance and the development of shared principles for an inclusive economy that encourages a joint approach to financial inclusion and brings together all participants as co-creators of a financial system for all.


Digital solutions for modern problems

And it requires building better avenues to get necessary resources to those who need them with urgency. As the pandemic quite literally brought the agriculture supply chain to a standstill, we worked in India with the Government of Andhra Pradesh to digitally connect and enable farmers to sell directly to buyers, not only resulting in fewer losses but also driving upwards of fifty percent higher earnings for rural families.

Every generation has, in its moment, believed it faced unprecedented challenges. Ours is no different. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more complex and urgent confluence of challenges than the one we see before us. The good news is that there is greater willingness than ever before in the private sector to engage in these issues. The charge for all of us — in the public, private and social sectors — is to bring each of our assets and perspective to the table and to find new and innovative ways to work together toward the common good.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Forum InstitutionalSustainable DevelopmentStakeholder Capitalism
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