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The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 2005/2006

A Survey of Current Issues

Edited by Henk Folmer and Tom Tietenberg

The Yearbook provides a comprehensive overview of cutting-edge issues in environmental and resource economics.
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Chapter 5: Corporate sustainability

Stefan Schaltegger and Roger Burritt


Stefan Schaltegger and Roger Burritt INTRODUCTION This chapter provides an overview of and discussion about current approaches to corporate sustainability. Considerable interest has been generated in the notion of corporate sustainability for a number of reasons. Corporations provide a practical, direct point of contact for the implementation of government policy. Many large corporations control more resources than many sovereign nations. Managements of corporations that seek to gain a competitive advantage are beginning to appreciate the necessity for promoting corporate sustainability initiatives as a way of differentiating themselves from competitors as well as of reducing costs of undertaking business and risks associated with operations. For example, since the concept of ecologically sustainable development appeared (Commission for the Future, 1987) and the related ‘precautionary principle’ was introduced (Commonwealth of Australia, 1990, p. 9), environmental risk has become a growing concern (Schaltegger et al., 2003, pp. 195–203). There is now greater focus on the management of environmental risks through voluntary means. A further factor promoting corporate interest in sustainability is that when problems occur, such as severe or persistent corporate impacts on the environment, communication with stakeholders is an important way of trying to minimize damage before or after the event. A distinction should be made between sustainability and sustainable development. The former is taken here to represent the goal or end point of the process of sustainable development. The term ‘corporate sustainability’ links the general approach to sustainability with sustainability at the corporate level. Section 2 examines the question as...

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