As a society, we consume natural resources faster than they can be replenished, and this is compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. On the current path, future generations will inherit a world that is biologically less diverse, has fewer resources, and is more polluted.
However, in this respect, the wealthiest countries have the ability to reduce the need for the poorest 1/3rd of human society (those living on less than $2 per day), to use resources in a short-sighted way (e.g. cutting down trees for firewood before they are able to grow to their full height). One which fosters economic development for the poorest of the poor, all while maintaining environmental resource protection (i.e. the concepts of social justice and social equity).
The Brundtland Report (Our Common Future), that arose from the World Commission on Economic Development was a significant driver for examining public understanding of the link between economic growth of the poorer nations and global environmental protection.The Commission argued that poorer countries must have the opportunity to develop economically. Richer countries should foster policies to favour environmental conservation with economic development
Organisations play a significant role in this context. Milton Friedman, a noted economist, states that the “only responsibility of business is to make profit so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engage in open and free competition without deception or fraud. However, Peter Drucker, the noted professor of management, disagrees and argues that a company is “an organ of the society and therefore, its actions and decisions have a great impact on society and people.” In other words, while financial profits are important, there are other factors that should also be taken into account (e.g. customer satisfaction, fair treatment of the employees and respect for the environment, sustainable supply chains, etc.).
Examples, of organisations adopting this more ‘sustainable ethical’ approach abound. However, an interesting case study is that of Oikocredit. It is an international co-operative and one of the world’s oldest (its over 40 years old), leading social impact investors, providing loans and equity to social enterprises in low income countries. It has for example, partnered with BBOXX, to provide affordable solar energy units to those living in rural African communities. As a result helping not only to improve the livelihoods of the households, but also to improve their health and well-being.