Addressing Today’s Issues
    Category: Column By : Scott Younger Read : 1363 Date : Tuesday, March 01, 2017 - 11:32:58

    In putting together lectures on sustainable development I was reminded, as highlighted in the diagram, of the huge impact that population growth over the past 70 years has on the planet’s resources. This growth has been possible through the acceleration in technology over the past one and a half centuries, but the trend is obviously unsustainable, even with the best efforts to expand food and water resources.

    One may underline, in particular, the impact of Carl Bosch and Fritz Habers’ early 20th century success in pulling nitrogen out of the air to create fertilizer, and thereby finding an essential way to feed billions. On this subject, with due care and correct sustainable policies, Indonesia, with its fertile soils and equatorial climate, could signficantly increase its agricultural output and become a net food exporter.  

    In addition, despite millions of deaths from horrific wars and genocides, medical advances have countered otherwise killer diseases and extended lifespans, despite a continuing battle with viruses, a stubborn enemy.  

    Even as improvements in the field of food production, as stated above, the growth trend is clearly unsustainable. It thus behoves humankind to take much more care of this issue as well as the planetary environment as a whole.

    In underprivileged communities, lacking electricity and connectivity, population growth is often unchecked and poverty rampant, as is true in many remote areas of Indonesia. Addressing this unacceptable situation should be a top government priority with  local administrations working alongside the private sector.

    Overall more should be done to encourage the empowerment of rural communities across the archipelago as well as peri-urban dwellers. It is critical that communities take ownership of initiatives, as simply imposing them from outside is nearly always doomed to failure. In this way, the seeds of small businesses are planted and, along with good infrastructure, entrepreneurial initiatives can flourish.

    McKinsey has shown the importance of encouraging the culture of startups, family businesses and entrepreneurship. In emerging markets, family businesses account for some 60% of private sector companies with revenues of more than $1 billion. Furthermore, the upward trend for family businesses is a significant input to national economies in emerging countries and is strong and increasing. It is expected to represent 40% of the world’s largest companies in 2025, compared with 15% in 2010.

    Thus, Indonesia, as well as other emerging countries, will hold an inaugural conference to discuss these and related issues in early May this year in Bali under the aegis of President University, with support from institutions across the archipelago and from overseas. Releasing the potential energy of these marginalized communities would have an enormous impact on growth, and the physical and moral health of the nation, as well as helping solve some global problems already outlined.