The BDO International Business Compass (IBC), an annual report produced by the HWWI for the international auditing company BDO, aims to present the overall business development status of countries and regions in the form of a single index value. In this way, we can draw up a ranking of countries by reference to their developmental status. The focus of this year’s edition is an international comparison of energy and resource consumption. We compare countries and regions with regard to their use of various types of resources and the societal impacts of resource consumption like emission of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Furthermore, we construct an index of resource use intensity that allows us to establish a global ranking.
It turns out that at the global level a high intensity of resource use continues to hold sway. Particularly the advancing loss of forest cover in developing countries and the accumulation of electronic waste in developed countries give cause for concern. With respect to both phenomena, the long-term forecast – a growing world population and increasing digitalization – cannot be counted as a positive development. Furthermore, our index of use intensity demonstrates that countries at a high stage of development are above all resource intensive. It is worthy of note in this connection, however, that three Gulf states have entered the Top 10, whereas no Western European country has returned there. It is also the case that a whole number of non-OECD countries occupy the leading places. It is thus becoming significant that emerging countries are definitely catching up. It will be interesting to monitor this process in the coming years. The connection between resource use and economic performance already observed in the individual analysis is also evident in the comparison of index values and gross domestic product. The economic catch-up process being undergone by emerging and developing countries therefore implies that in the medium term, no reduction in resource use can be expected.
By contrast, there is growing environmental awareness in the OECD countries. Thus, the tendency is that forested areas, which are needed as CO2 sinks, are on the increase and land dedicated to agriculture is on the decrease. In addition, the recycling of accumulated waste is coming into the foreground. Nevertheless, the harmful consequences for society of the high use of raw materials are immense. The majority of climate researchers are agreed that human activities are a driving force in global warming. In most highly developed economies, there are therefore corresponding political targets that also have a measurable impact on the economy and affect location decisions. Thus, the existence of energy-related taxes, duties and incentivizing levies leads to higher energy prices for industry. The present overview makes it clear that in the short term we cannot expect any easing-up on the theme of carbon dioxide. Accordingly, it is foreseeable that the economy will continue to be involved and will have to develop appropriate strategies for dealing with the subject of sustainability.