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技术 - 财富绿色头脑风暴

如何养活全球30亿中产阶级?

Shelley DuBois 2012年04月19日

嘉吉公司CEO彭国瑞表示,业界领袖需要反思水资源成本,从而以可持续的方式养活不断增长的世界人口。天然气能帮助我们解决水资源定价问题吗?

    嘉吉公司(Cargill)CEO彭国瑞要求我们所有人考虑一下,做一件大家都非常讨厌的事情:掏更多的钱来购买某件东西。“我们试图让人们明白,价格是实现可持续发展真正必要的元素之一。”4月17日,他对《财富》绿色头脑风暴大会(Fortune's Brainstorm Green)的与会者这样说道。

    另一位专题讨论小组成员、大自然保护协会(Nature Conservancy)CEO马克•特瑟克则认为,水是工商界领导人需要重新定价的主要资源之一。他说:“由于水资源向来都是免费的,农业领域有时疯狂地使用水资源。有些地方一直在种植不合适的农产品。”

    然而,对水这种免费资源进行投资的机会有可能源自一个意想不到的领域,即天然气钻探。麦肯锡咨询公司(McKinsey & Co)主管迪肯•皮纳说:“我认为,页岩气是那个可以让水资源具备投资价值的东西。”

    采用一种名为水力压裂法的油气井增产技术钻探天然气需要耗费大量水资源。由于多方面的原因,这项技术一直充满争议,但主要原因在于钻探用水有可能遭到污染。皮纳说,这是一个迫切需要解决的问题,如果清洁水事关企业的经济利益,它将有助于这个问题的解决。

    “我们正在进行相当规模的投资,”西门子公司(Siemens Corp.)总裁兼首席执行官埃里克•施皮格尔承认。“许多开采公司正在探索方法,希望百分之一百地回收钻探用水。这是一个巨大的商机。”

    农业公司也必须得改进其他方面的定价模式。农业部门面临的挑战十分巨大——它必须为养活数量不断增长的世界人口作出贡献。据麦肯锡公司预测,在未来20年中,这个星球必须为30多亿中产消费者的生活提供支持。

    这些人将使用大量资源,同时要求公司进一步提高透明度。彭国瑞说:“在一个一切无所遁形的世界,最好不要有任何见不得人的东西。”

    外界提高了对透明性的要求,这一点已经影响了嘉吉公司应对新市场增长机会的方式。比如,彭国瑞举了个例子,称许多公司需要增加对非洲耕地的开发力度,以满足未来人口的粮食需求。他问道:“如此一来,整体目标是以尽可能廉价的方式提高食物产量,还是在做到这一点的同时,最大限度地考虑原住民的利益呢?”如同计算清洁水的真实成本一样,大型农业公司也必须想清楚,如何计算让当地人参与进来所具有的价值。

    译者:任文科

    Cargill CEO Greg Page is going to ask us all to think about doing something we hate: pay more for some stuff. "We try to get people to think about price as one of the real necessary elements for sustainability," he tells attendees at Fortune's Brainstorm Green conference on April 17.

    One of the main resources that leaders need to re-price is water, says another panelist, Nature Conservancy CEO Mark Tercek: "Because water has been free, we've had some crazy uses of water in the agriculture space where the wrong things have been grown in the wrong places."

    Yet opportunities for investment in what is now a free resource could come from an unexpected area: drilling for natural gas. "In my mind, shale gas is the thing that will make water investable," says Dickon Pinner, a principal at McKinsey & Co.

    Drilling for gas requires an enormous amount of water, used in a well-stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." The method is controversial for several reasons, but one primary reason has to do with the potential contamination of water used in the process. It is an urgent problem, and the fact that companies will have a financial stake in clean water could help fix it, Pinner says.

    "We're doing quite a bit of investment," admits Siemens Corp. president and CEO Eric Spiegel. "A lot of the drillers are looking for ways to recycle 100% of that water, and that is huge opportunity."

    Agriculture companies will have to revamp other aspects of their pricing model as well. The challenge the industry faces is huge – it will have to help feed a world whose population is only growing. According to estimates from McKinsey, the planet will have to support more than 3 billion middle-class consumers over the next 20 years.

    Those people are going to use a tremendous amount of resources and demand a greater degree of corporate transparency. "In a world where nothing can be hidden, you better have nothing to hide," says Page.

    The greater need for transparency has already affected the way Cargill approaches growth in new markets. For instance, many companies will need to ramp up the development of arable land in Africa to meet the food demands of the future population, Page says. "So, is the whole goal to raise as many calories as cheaply as possible, or is it to do it in a manner that engages the maximum share of the indigenous population?" he asks. Like the true cost of clean water, the value of engaging local people is something that Big Ag must figure out how to calculate.

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