Responsible Futures Matter
Edited by Moazzem Hossain, Tapan Sarker and Malcolm McIntosh
Chapter 11: Business’s challenge: relating corporate sustainability, strategy and leadership
This chapter diverges in one significant respect from those that have preceded it – it uses the individual firm or business as its lens to view the sustainability challenge. It is from this vantage point that the ‘driving forces’ (Wilkinson 2009) in the mega-environment, of ‘rapid technological diffusion’, ‘extensive environmental threats’, and ‘vast current inequalities of income and power’ (Sachs 2008, p. 8) are viewed. The dystopian scenarios of undermined global governance, social unrest, and ineffective safeguards that may arise from these critical uncertainties (WEF 2012, pp. 16–27) are also contemplated from this firm-centric mindset. The publication of the first edition of the Global Risks Report of the World Economic Forum in 2006 is a temporal identifier for this prevailing era of relentless and dynamic uncertainty that the above description foregrounds. It is conceptually useful because it highlights the accelerating social, environmental and economic issues as the unfortunate but unavoidable externalities of over two centuries of anthropocene to that point, an epoch where humanity has seriously disturbed many critical earth systems (Crutzen 2009). Amongst the more impactful and potentially deleterious markers of business’s macro-environment landscape in this era are chronic fiscal imbalances, greenhouse gas emissions, global governance failure, unsustainable population growth, critical systems failure, overexploitation of species, and mismanaged natural cycles (WEF 2012, p. 11; Sachs 2010, pp. 7–9). This is the overarching sustainability challenge.
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