Niraj Khinvasara currently heads the World Trade Center Pune as Executive Director and Chief Innovation Officer.
Life has come full circle: Much as our ancestors did, humans are migrating to foreign places not just for opportunities but also for survival and a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. Against a backdrop of accelerated climate change consequences, an emerging class of ultra-high-net-worth individuals has the means to fulfill all their dreams, and many choose to employ their resources to protect their health, wealth, and families, and to survive the inevitable natural hazard as well as its resultant health-impeding effects. A rising number of affluent individuals intend to do this by investing in and moving to places they know will offer a more secure, protected, and healthy environment for their families.
The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13 includes a critical clause about people’s right to freedom of movement and residence worldwide. But long before we needed such proclamations, when early humans lived nomadic lives to escape unfavorable conditions caused by climate change, the unavailability of food, or other calamities, we migrated wherever we wanted or found suitable places to survive. Later, the push and pull factors shifted from survival to factors such as trade, geopolitical tensions, religious intolerance, and educational opportunities. Today, most individuals seeking to migrate or experience new cultures and growth opportunities must overcome many barriers including financial limitations, personal commitments, political policies, and international immigration laws. However, affluent individuals looking for means to grow and primarily futureproof investments for their families are not bound by such barriers.
Wealthy families can protect what they care about and surpass national boundaries and even their nationalities of birth by investing in supplementary residences and alternative citizenships in countries of their choice. And why not? They have the ambition and the financial means to do so. Popular reasons for securing multiple domiciles include improved security and quality of life, better education to enable their children to fulfill their dreams and passions, business reasons such as tax-friendly environments, and creating a diverse investment portfolio. More recently — rather significantly — a host country’s sustainability measures is increasingly coming to the fore as a key consideration for investment locations, as indicated by the Henley Wealth and Sustainability Report. Given the options available and the impending climate disaster, wealthy investors are looking to make informed decisions concerning acquiring residences and citizenships in nations that are putting sustainability at the tops of their agendas.
A prime example of a country that prioritizes climate sustainability and is attracting affluent investors from across the globe is the Central American country of Costa Rica. At a 2021 forum discussing the ‘New Reality of Business’, held by the World Trade Centers Association (WTCA), an organization for international trade, the minister of foreign trade for Costa Rica shared the country’s practice of the Pura Vida framework. Former Minister Andres Valenciano Yamuni explained how societies can structure their future around sustainability and turn it into a genuine business and economic model.
Costa Rica has been a global leader in many environmental policies, which has helped the country accrue a ‘Green Trademark’ according to the World Bank. This status has helped Costa Rica, which years ago was simply thought of by critics as a so-called “third world tropic”, to boost itself into becoming a desirable location for business and production. In recent years, over 300 high-tech companies, 29 of which are Fortune 100 companies, have successfully established operations in the country. To illustrate, Allergan, Amazon, Boston Scientific, Dole, IBM Intel, and Proctor & Gamble have all found success in Costa Rica due to its progress and commitment towards sustainability.
Eventually, the sustainability of a country will be one of its most important factors and will have an enormous impact on the flow of migration. Other countries should follow Costa Rica’s example if they aim to attract large corporations and ultra-high-net-worth individuals who would develop operations within their borders. Soon, characteristics such as GDP and military strength will be joined by sustainability as important factors in statecraft, and a country’s infrastructure and whether it supports a sustainable future will be focal points of migration for talented and affluent individuals.
Asia is not far behind Costa Rica in its efforts against the effects of climate change. As highlighted in Henley & Partners’ inaugural Centi-Millionaire Report in 2022, Asia is one of the fastest growing high-net-worth individual minting regions and will emerge as the prime hub for centi-millionaires (individuals with over USD 100 million in investable assets), even overtaking Europe and the USA within a decade.
One of the Asian continent’s most dynamic countries, India has put tremendous efforts into its Smart Cities Mission, with an ambitious plan to set up 100 smart cities comprising over 7,000 different smart projects across the country by June 2024. The primary goal of these cities is to create sustainable urban developments throughout India. As CEM Engineers Director Sneha Gurjar has noted, infrastructure development and sustainability are two sides of the same coin. No city can be considered a ‘smart’ city without futureproof solutions and infrastructure that supports a green sustainable world.
Moreover, India is investing significantly in sustainable agriculture, championing programs promoting organic farming, water conservation, and soil health. Furthermore, experts suggest that the country has realized less than 20% of its capacity when it comes to critical mineral exploration. It was recently reported that India possesses the world’s fifth-largest reserve of rare earth minerals tapping resources for an uninterrupted supply chain. Soon, the country will begin to mine them in a sustainable fashion, taking advantage of its domestic resources.
The WTCA is privileged to be a part of Asia’s projected economic growth and is promoting companies in the development of cutting-edge technology to create solutions to sustainability problems around the world through partnerships such as ELESPA HEV and ElectroFlex.
India has become the country with the largest number of two-wheeler vehicles, with over 200 million registered. ELESPA HEV works to convert two-wheeler vehicles originally powered by petroleum into affordable, working hybrid vehicles that run primarily on an electric battery then function on petroleum fuel after their battery has been drained. Through this innovation, ELESPA HEV provides a valuable way for the industry to grow sustainably.
The World Trade Center Pune, India is promoting technologies that have created renewable energy solutions that are decarbonizing the world’s ports. ElectroFlex offers a selection of diesel-powered port machinery that can transform its fuel source to run on electric renewable energy while capable of using diesel as a backup. The initiative is striving to reduce the carbon footprint caused by global trade, hoping to convert thousands of ports around the globe.
What truly inspires human migration in the present day — what drives wealthy global investors to migrate and what draws them to desirable destinations — is healthy longevity. At the individual level, this means a prolonged life in a secure environment, free from illnesses that affect their quality of life. At a country level, this means governments that put sustainability first. Countries should take note of the progress of states such as Costa Rica and India in leading the way. The value of the Henley Wealth and Sustainability Report will increase as world bodies are pushing sustainability as a strategic initiative. With infrastructure supporting sustainability, governments will attract businesses and eventually ultra-high-net-worth migrants who can positively impact the future of their economies. The spotlight needs to be on futureproof places ensuring long-term security, protection, and profitable investment.