Global Organizations Drive (Quietly) Sustainable Capitalism

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Over the last few decades, a global movement toward a different business model has emerged. The new model is related to broader efforts to promote sustainable development and the circular economy, and is driven in large part by the challenges of climate change. However, the new commitments made by responsible organizations and governments across the world need strong implementation in order to effectively address the global challenges.

To bring these organizations into spotlight, the Security and Sustainability Guide project has released a new report titled “Greening Capitalism, Quietly: Seven Types of Organizations Driving the “Necessary Revolution.” The report focuses on a quiet revolution that is unfolding where certain business organizations and nonprofits are taking on the role of change-makers to create a sustainable world.

The report maps about 150 organizations that are driving the greening of capitalism, and groups them into seven key categories, including Business-Led Groups, Ethical Groups, Broadened Accounting Groups, Certifying Organizations, Green Investing Groups, Sustainability Consultants, and Green Business Publishing.

Business-Led Groups

There are a number of corporate-led groups that are well aware of emerging sustainability challenges and have been taking a leadership role in addressing these risks. Two of the best-known groups are the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum. The WBCSD has 200 corporate members from 35 countries, and has issued an Action 2020 platform and a Vision 2050 best-case scenario. The World Economic Forum is widely known for its annual meeting of business and government leaders in Davos, but also issues many reports on different areas of sustainability.

Ethics-Driven Groups

Many groups explicitly stress ethics, responsibility or corporate social responsibility (CSR), and leadership, and organizational ratings and performance reports reinforce these virtues. The best-known ethical driver is probably the UN Global Compact, which has 12,000 business signatories in 170 countries to 10 Principles regarding human rights, labor standards, environment, and corruption. The UN Global Compact Cities Program encourages urban innovation and local businesses joining the Compact.

Broadened Accounting

The traditional image of accounting as dull number-crunching is quickly fading. Accounting is increasingly learning to speak in multiple tongues reflecting the “triple bottom line.” Various groups are working to establish this broader picture. In addition to GRI, the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board, chaired by Michael Bloomberg, is developing standards for more than 80 industries. The International Integrated Reporting Council encourages business to “think holistically” about sustainable development and value creation over time.

Certifying Organizations

The internet, trade, and global travel are frequently cited as forces for globalization. Certifying organizations seeking global, regional, or national standardization of best practices are another driver, albeit a quiet one. The International Organization for Standards, comprising 163 national standards bodies, has issued many ISO standards, including Environmental Management, Energy Management, Risk Management, Food Safety, Information Security, and Social Responsibility.

Green Investing

Three broad indicator clusters suggest the robust turn toward green or sustainability investing. First, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative now has 60 partner exchanges on board to promote sustainable business practices and responsible investment. Second, the Green Transition Scoreboard, published annually by Ethical Markets Media, calculates $7.13 trillion in non-government green investments and commitments. A third indicator is provided by the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, which notes that “sustainable investments have more than doubled since 2012.”

Green Consulting

Large groups include the Carbon Disclosure Project with consulting services such as corporate footprints to promote sustainable business, products and cities; Ecology and Environment Inc., consulting on environmental management; Environmental Resources Management, claiming “world’s leading sustainability consultancy”; GlobeScan, providing evidence based strategy consulting; and SustainAbility Survey of challenges and opportunities.

Green Business Publishers

Similar to the wide variety of green consultants, large and small, green business publishers offer a broad range of books, journals, reports, and newsletters. Publishers, such as the new Business and Sustainable Development Commission, GreenBiz, Greenleaf Publishing, and 3BL Media keep readers abreast of new developments in the area of global sustainability.


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