White Paper on Business Sustainability: What it is and why it matters
In the 21st century, business sustainability needs to be understood in terms of the environment, economic development, human rights, women’s empowerment, and rule of law. Smart businesses are incorporating these broader principles of sustainability into their business decisions, and developing practical standards and metrics to help apply these principles in practice.
These measures work to maximize opportunity and minimize the negative impact their core businesses have on the environment, the community and the economy in places where they operate.
The idea that sustainability has multiple dimensions emerged from the Brundtland Commission’s report, Our Common Future, which laid the foundation for the current understanding of sustainability as a threelegged stool involving people, the planet and profits. It cites efforts by businesses that are working with their supply chains to balance these three aspects. They do so by adopting transparent sourcing and distribution strategies that are informed by consultation with local communities, are environmentally sound, and at the same time enhance business growth. These sustainable business strategies will help advance a post-2015 development agenda. This joint statement on business sustainability is the product of a collective effort by seven Global Agenda Councils. It draws on their expertise to set forth an integrated view of business sustainability. The statement aims to help shape the Forum’s ongoing consideration of the development of sustainable business models and practices. It can also serve as a resource for businesses, governments, civil society and other actors seeking to incorporate understandings of sustainability into their business decisions and models.