6.4 Greener business?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) can be defined as “A company’s sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship

  1. through their waste and pollution reduction processes,
  2. by contributing educational and social programs and
  3. by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.”

Business dictionary

Triple bottom line

Most companies that wish to be perceived as “green” or having a clear CSR profile, will use some version of the triple bottom line accounting.

According to the triple bottom lines thinking, companies should not only prepare the traditional measure of corporate profit—the “bottom line” of profit and loss. They should in addition prepare a second bottom line of the company’s “people account”. This measures how socially responsible the company has been.

A third bottom line should be on the “planet account” measuring the company’s environmental footprint, or how environmentally responsible the company has been in the period.

The triple bottom line thus has three Ps: Profit, People and Planet and measures the financial, social and environmental performance of the company in the accountancy period. In other words; the company measures and takes responsibility for the full cost involved in running the business, and avoid the negative externalities that other companies try to make society or the surroundings pay. .

Business is increasingly going green. Even if some of the CSR profiles many companies like to garnish themselves with is just greenwashing, many do serious and good work. We cannot wait for politicians to take the lead. Those who can and will take responsibility must do it. 

Insurance and banks support greener business

Many insurance companies and banks will give better terms and credits to CSR-companies. Many retirement funds will only invest in recognized CRS companies.

The UN and UNEP are coordinating initiatives for Sustainable Insurance 

There are similar initiatives on sustainable banking and financing.
Sustainable Banking Network

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) – Principles of Sustainable Banking are intended to describe fundamental pillars of values-based banking

Initiatives with ideas for a more environmentally friendly future are important steps towards a future sustainable society  and the rapidly developing green eco economy.

The more companies taking CSR seriously, the quicker and less painful the necessary road to sustainability will be.

The reformist perspective

mainstream view

The traditional, reformist view seeks to achieve economic growth while balancing this interest with social welfare and protecting the environment.

Sustainable development is just a political goal in parallel with other political goals.

Dimensions of sustainable development

There are four dimensions to sustainable development – society, environment, culture and economy – which are intertwined, not separate. Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. For example, a prosperous society relies on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water and clean air for its citizens  (UNESCO, 2015).

The radical perspective

In contrast to the traditional reformist view, the radical view claims that the traditional way will never achieve sustainability, but inevitably end in cataclysmic ecosystem breakdowns.

In the traditional system, the economical interests will always be given priority.
Ecology will lose when traditional decision-makers must choose.

sustainability-bullseye-vs-mickey-mouse

Mickey Mouse (OzPolitic) Sustainable development requires that the ecosystems and the environment are given priority, while the economy must give way. The economy is a tool for achieving prosperity in general, but cannot exceed the ecological limits. From: Visualizing sustainability

To achieve sustainability, the economy and social welfare demands must adapt to the ecological limits. In this perspective, the physical resources of the Earth are limited. Fair distribution of material wealth and global justice are therefore crucial elements.

The radical view places all economic activities and social justice issues inside an ecological framework. Sustainable development as a consequence must encompass not only environmental, economic and sociocultural perspectives but also include the promotion of ethics, values, the necessary changes of attitudes and lifestyles in order to build a sustainable future inside this framework.

To achieve this challenge, a new, transformative form of education is necessary. We must build an education for tomorrow – a relevant education that matters.

Learning for the future?

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Home Chapter  5  5 Green economy
Chapter 6 6 Greener future?
6.1 Green technology
6.1.1 Solar
6.1.2 Wind
6.1.3 Renewable energy
6.1.4 Energy storage
6.1.5 Geo-engineering
6.2 Ecological footprint
6.3 Greener law?
6.4 Greener business?
6.5 Greener architecture?
6.6 Greener tourism