Edited by Alexander Nill
Chapter 13: Corporate social responsibility: individual, institutional and systemic perspectives
Who talks about sustainability should not be silent about the role of the economy. This slightly ironic phrase directs our attention to one central aspect in the debate on sustainability: the economy’s contribution to sustainable development. As a system that enables us to fulfill our material needs by efficiently making use of scarce resources, the economy pervades a wide range of social and environmental aspects of our lives. The economy is the basis for any kind of material and immaterial wealth, and all human activities depend upon it. The economy is a fundamental basis of our culture, and that is what connects it to the concept of sustainability: while the economy supplies us with the necessary material resources of the present, sustainability tries to ensure that these resources are still going to be available in the future. Even though the economy and sustainability are highly interconnected, they are often seen as antonyms. To a certain extent this is a problem arising from the critical role played by the most visible actors in any market economy: companies, especially large enterprises. Many people interpret corporate action as the main reason why our current economy seems to be unsustainable.
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