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Defining Sustainable Business: A Guide For Executives

This report aims to help executives struggling to define what sustainability means for their firm with a review of prominent descriptions of sustainable business.

Most conceptions of what a sustainable business looks like focus on challenges such as: rising population and consumption; the accessibility of the earth’s resources, the consequences of social change; and long-term success. Descriptions of sustainable business vary on issues such as firms’ obligations to society, imperative to respect environmental boundaries and the reliance on ‘eco-efficiency’.

Firms wishing to articulate their vision on sustainability need to consider that conceptions of sustainable business necessarily vary between sectors. Firms should also take into account relevant economic, environmental and social issues, relationships and resources crucial to the firm’s ability to create value, issues that impact value creation over the short, medium and long term, and the contribution that a sustainable business vision can make to the identity of the firm.


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