Muhammad Yunus: Redesign economics to redesign the world
Muhammad Yunus' keynote speech was one of the main highlights of the New Cities Summit. His speech was about the concept of a social business, which he defines as a non-dividend company working to solve a human problem. One of the reasons Professor Yunus finds this model compelling is that the money invested is returned and can then be reused, whereas with a charity, the money can only be used once. Social businesses are also an important answer to unemployment: Professor Yunus counsels young people to become entrepreneurs instead of seeking jobs.
Professor Yunus emphasized the importance of cities, as they bear the brunt of the past few decades' dramatic acceleration in population growth, and because they are where inequality between the rich and poor is most pronounced. One important solution is the idea of a social business city: Professor Yunus gave the example of Wiesbaden, Germany, where the mayor realized that more than half of the city's budget was spent on welfare programs. He therefore decided to encourage the social business landscape in Wiesbaden through a variety of programs and funding opportunities, leading Wiesbaden to become the world's first social business city.
Professor Yunus concluded by describing how the idea of a social business, when combined with the power of young people, technology, and good governance, can achieve what he calls the "three zeros": zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net emissions.