Perspectives on Business and Sustainability
Over the past 30 years, the concept of sustainability has evolved to reflect perspectives of both the public and private sectors. A public policy perspective would define sustainability as the satisfaction of basic economic, social, and security needs now and in the future without undermining the natural resource base and environmental quality on which life depends. From a business perspective, the goal of sustainability is to increase long-term shareholder and social value, while decreasing industry’s use of materials and reducing negative impacts on the environment.
Common to both the public policy and business perspectives is recognition of the need to support a growing economy while reducing the social and economic costs of economic growth. Sustainable development can be facilitated by policies that integrate environmental, economic, and social values in decision making. From a business perspective, sustainable development is accomplished by capturing system dynamics, building resilient and adaptive systems, anticipating and managing variability and risk, and earning a profit.