Steering Business Toward Sustainability
| ISBN 92-808-0909-1|
1995, 206 pages
Edited by Edited by Fritjof Capra and Gunter Pauli
Business activities are responsible, directly or indirectly, for most human impacts on the
earth's ecosystems, yet business is conducted with little thought of its sustainability - that
is, the satisfying of our own needs without diminishing the chances of future generations.
Sustainability, in its ecological and social components, poses business an inescapable challenge: without sustainability there will be no more profits. Hence, business people haw a
strong self-interest in minimizing the ecological damage of their operations.
In this book, business executives, economists, ecologists, and other thinkers outline new practical approaches that business and society must take to meet this challenge.
Impetus for change often comes from non-governmental organizations. But, as one executive recounts, executives must take responsibility for re-educating themselves and their
managers. They face closer public and media scrutiny, as information on corporate environmental performance proliferates. Government also exerts increasing leverage to reduce
environmental impacts, as a German official describes. Ecologically based tax reforms in
particular, an economist explains, can stop rewarding intensive resource use, pollution, and
job destruction. Even within the financial world, new ideas are stirring: notions of fiduciary
responsibility are expanding to include ecological concerns and a longer-term analysis of financial returns.
Technology, which many take to be hostile to the environment, offers dramatic
new possibilities for moving toward sustainability. In the coming zero-emissions industrial
clusters, everything we now consider waste is the raw material for an adjacent industry.
"Living machines," complex multi-species configurations, already serve human purposes.
Finally, the founder of a highly successful business tells the inspiring story of
guiding his company toward limited growth, greatly reduced environmental impacts, and
support for positive social and ecological goals.
Fritjof Capra, physicist and systems theorist, is the author of The Turning Point, and co-
author of EcoManagement.
Gunter Pauli, a business executive, was instrumental in the building of the world's first
zero-emissions factory and is now establishing the zero emissions research programme at
the United Nations University in Tokyo.