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
- through their waste and pollution reduction processes,
- by contributing educational and social programs and
- by earning adequate returns on the employed resources.”
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
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.
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?
- What are the 21st-century skills every student needs?
- What does the future hold for your job?
- 10 skills you need in the Fourth Industrial Revolution
- More on Employment, Skills and Human Capital
- CSR Global compact (UN)
- CSR International
- We Mean Business coalition is catalyzing business action and driving policy ambition to accelerate the zero-carbon transition.
- Business delivered a clear message at COP24 (2018)
- Dozens of Corporate Giants Agree to Cut Emissions as UN Turns to Climate (2019)
- Banks Worth $47 Trillion Adopt New UN-Backed Climate Principles (2019)
- UNEP: Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production
- Cleaner production journal
- CSR 2.0
- Principles for sustainable insurance (PSI)
- Dow Jones Sustainability Index
- CSR (Wikipedia)
- CSR solutions facebook
- The State of Green Business, 2015
- Three critical questions to ask about your CSR programs
- Green enterprises /CSR
- World Resources Institute (WRI)
- Visualizing sustainability
- The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy (University of Brighton – Faculty of Arts)
- EcoTipping Points Project
- Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
- Education and the search for a sustainable future
- Education for sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals
- Education and national sustainable development strategies
- Planetary sustainability in the age of the information and knowledge society: working toward 2015 for a sustainable world and future
- How Tesla, Whole Foods and Toyota Evolved into ‘Green Giants’
- The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan
- Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (Balle)
- New York Plans to Make Fighting Climate Change Good Business
- Scientists, investors seek to identify financial risks of climate change
- Can sustainability engagement be more fun?
- 7 ways for projects managers to make your projects sustainable
- The Decarbonizer
- PriceWaterHouseCooper (2012) Low Carbon Economy Index – planning for a warmer world
- Statoil transforms to Equinor
- KPMG climate change and sustainability
- SKANSKA environmental responsibility and carbon reduction
- Enough: project to end genocide and crimes against humanity
- Conflict minerals platform
- Insurers worth $1.2tn tell G20 to stop funding fossil fuels by 2020 (Aug 2016)
- Business Leaders Discuss Millennials’ Impact in the Workplace
- How To Succeed At Sustainability (And Why Greenwashing Doesn’t Work)
- Welcome to Our New Climate Reality: To Save the Planet, Businesses and Investors Must Be a Part of the Solution. Can corporate and investor behavior be shifted to scale up the fight against climate change?
- Why business will make or break the SDGs
- Why Are the Residents of This Small Village So Happy? They’re Managing Their Farmland as Commons. Their fundamental premise is that the value of farmland lies in its contribution to food production, lasting ecosystems and human life—not financial gain
- A new climate-friendly approach to trade (Sierra club)
- Neustart für den fairen Handel – CETA-Vertrag nicht zustimmen
- The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Process and Performance
- The Comprehensive Business Case for Sustainability
- What will Ontario’s Circular Economy Strategy mean for Businesses?
- Fake news? Here’s some real news: Cities around the country are breaking corporate chains
- ISO 14000 Environmental management
- ISO 26000 Social responsibility
- Standards contribute to SDGs and help business seize opportunities
- Sustainability no longer optional for suppliers
- Emissions flat for third year running as economy boom continues (March 2017)
- Ethical trading initiative
- The New Economic Science of Capitalism’s Slow-Burn Energy Collapse
Why the struggle for a new economic paradigm is about to get real.
- The Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Ethics Blog