The Role Of The Private Sector In Environmental Action

1437 words - 6 pages

The Role of the Private Sector in Environmental Action
The second major gap in the current debate over globalization is that
neither the protesters nor the parties to the global institutions are
paying any attention to the positive, problem-solving role
corporations can play.

The protesters believe that the corporate sector is the problem, not
the solution, and must be regulated by government into behavior that
does not destroy the environment. This prejudice is a hallmark of the
efforts to counter the negative effects of globalization. It also
limits the possibility of dialogue, and leads many businesspeople to
suppose that the environment is a fringe activity of enthusiasts who
want to regulate their activities and drive up their costs. This
erroneous view is reinforced by a certain type of economic theorist
(or environmental activist) who thinks that environmental protection
must be costly and painful, on the theory that if it were easy it
would already have been done by now.

If, however, it is true that adherence to the principles of Natural
Capitalism will be the basis of profitability in the coming decades,
then it is in businesses' own interest not to deplete their natural or
human capital. Global corporate power has some serious downsides, no
doubt, but the best leaders of the transformative corporate sector are
inviting debate over what their role should be and how to make their
companies restorative of human and natural capital. They are realizing
that corporations that do not steward and reinvest in their most
valuable resources will face a grim future.

It may well turn out that the institutions with the greatest interest
in promoting environmental or labor agendas are the very companies
that the demonstrators are vilifying. If Natural Capitalism drives a
re-evaluation of business as we know it, then the current conflict
over trade, labor, and the environment may become moot, as the
economic interests of the corporations begin to converge with the
values of citizens. Already a growing number of businesses are
declaring a commitment to operate sustainably-because it's the right
thing to do, or will buy them goodwill, or bring competitive advantage
and profit, or some combination of these reasons.

In a perfect world, all corporate executives would follow the lead of
Ray Anderson of Interface, Pasquale Pistorio of STMicroelectronics,
and Mark Moody-Stuart of Royal Dutch/Shell. These leaders are
redefining their responsibilities to extend far beyond enhancing
shareholder value and the next quarter's profits, to embrace
stewardship for the world. Such companies are embodying, clarifying,
and extending the principles of Natural Capitalism as the new basis of
profitability in the decades to come.
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