Edited by Hemant Merchant
Chapter 5: Learning from sustainability initiatives in emerging markets
The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) defined sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (1987, p. 16). This definition is still widely used and rests on three pillars, the so-called three Es of sustainable development—economic development, environmental protection and social equity—which need to be met for development to be truly sustainable (Opp and Saunders, 2013). Considering that poverty is more prevalent in the developing world, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, humanitarians and researchers generally focus on how initiatives created in advanced economies can be transferred to developing economies. This focus may not seem surprising since (1) the 4 billion low-income individuals who are referred to as the bottom-of-the-pyramid live in these lesser developed countries (Pervez et al., 2013) and (2) 850 million of the 870 million individuals who were chronically undernourished in 2010 to 2012 resided in the developing economies, making up almost 15 percent of the population in these countries (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, aka FAO, 2012a). However, as history has shown, trying to adapt initiatives that were developed in and/or for the advanced economies is likely to fail unless they are developed with the participation of those who are supposed to benefit from these initiatives (Khavul and Bruton, 2013) and with a deep understanding of the ecosystem in which they are to be implemented (Dankelman and Davidson, 2009).
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