The US is missing out on the biggest business opportunity of the future, and one of India’s top executives is “delighted”

Anand Mahindra sees big business in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Anand Mahindra sees big business in the Sustainable Development Goals.
Image: Reuters/Ruben Sprich
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Two years after the United Nations set ambitious targets for reducing poverty and improving health around the world by 2030, countries have made worryingly little progress. A report last week from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation warned that the world is on track to miss the Sustainable Development Goals, at the cost of millions of lives.

Not everyone is dragging their feet. Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Indian conglomerate the Mahindra Group, said he was baffled by the world’s reluctance to embrace the targets.

“This is not a trade-off. This is the single biggest business opportunity for the next couple of decades,” he said today (Sept. 20) at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York. “I don’t even know what we’re arguing about.”

Mahindra’s company has annual revenues of $17.8 billion. Most new businesses in the wide-ranging, Mumbai-based multinational are in sectors aligned with the SDGs, Mahindra said, such as electric vehicles, rural housing, and water management.

“To my mind, anyone not looking at these opportunities is going to miss out on growth,” he said. “My only anthem is, look, there’s money in this. When businessmen see money in this, you’re going to see change.”

Mahindra added that he sees one entity currently on track to be a loser in this new business environment: the US.

“When we heard that America is pulling out of the Paris agreement, that’s unfortunate, but frankly—speaking purely from my competitive juices point of view—we are delighted that somebody’s not going to look at these opportunities,” he said. “They’ll be all there for us.”