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Politics of Sustainable Development. 4. The Challenge of Green Business. ”The fundamental assumption [is] that economic growth and the resolution of ecological problems can, in principle, be reconciled…” Maarten Hajer, The Politics of Environmental Discourse, 1995, p 26.

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politics of sustainable development

Politics of Sustainable Development

4. The Challenge of Green Business


”The fundamental assumption [is] that economic growth and the resolution of ecological problems can, in principle, be reconciled…”Maarten Hajer, The Politics of Environmental Discourse, 1995, p 26

green business as politics
Green Business as Politics
  • as activism, or political action
      • from protest to cooperation
      • from resistance to appropriation
      • from movement intellectuals to brokers
  • as decision-making, or policy
      • from ”command and control” to co-construct
      • from ”end of pipe” to strategic innovation
      • from lobbying to networking
the emergence of green business


natural capitalism


The Emergence of Green Business




corporate sustainable






pollution prevention,

cleaner technologies



soft energy


economics and policy

pollution control,

”end-of pipe”

Environmental awareness, or consciousness

example automotive politics
Example: Automotive Politics

Phase One: Pollution Control, up to about 1975

lead-free gasoline, catalytic mufflers

Phase Two: Environmental Policy, ca 1975-87

collective transportation, electric cars

Phase Three: Sustainable Development, ca 1987-99

sustainable traffic planning, high-speed trains

Phase Four: Green Business, from about 2000

market-oriented differentiation, hybrid cars

what is green business
What is Green Business?
  • ideas/discourses: the cosmological dimension
    • eco-efficiency
    • ecological modernization
    • natural capitalism
  • networks/institutions: the organizational dimension
    • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
    • Greening of Industry Network, UNEP
    • Natural Step, Society of Ecological Economics
  • practices/competencies: the technical dimension
    • corporate environmental management
    • environmental and energy planning
    • technological management and innovation

Eco-efficiencyAccording to DeSimone and Popoff (1997)

  • Reduce toxic dispersion
  • Enhance material recyclability
  • Extend product durability and recyclability
  • Increase service intensity of products
  • Improve market opportunities
  • Enhance image
eco efficiency as a strategy of appropriation
Eco-efficiency as a Strategy of Appropriation
  • Discursive framework:
    • a story-line of global competition
    • a business economics language: instrumental rationality
  • Institutional structures:
    • transnational business networks
    • commercial rules and regulations
  • Practical measures:
    • emission trading, green products
    • incremental design and product improvements

Ecological ModernizationAccording to Rinkevicius (1998)

  • Flexible, or soft regulation regimes
  • Making pollution prevention ”pay”
  • Precautionary principle
  • Dialogue and consensus in decision-making
  • International cooperation
the eco modernist strategy
The Eco-Modernist Strategy
  • Discursive framework:
    • a story line of deliberative governance
    • a political sociological language: communicative rationality
  • Institutional structures:
    • public-private partnerships, sustainable business hubs
    • intergovernmental bodies and agreements
  • Practical measures:
    • sustainability indicators, strategic EIA
    • life cycle analysis and management

Natural CapitalismAccording to Hawken, Lovins and Lovins, Natural Capitalism (1999)

  • Radical resource productivity (eg factor ten)
  • Biomimicry: redesigning industrial systems along biological lines
  • Transition to a service and flow economy
  • Investing in natural capital, in addition to physical, human, and social capital
an eco culture strategy
An Eco-Culture Strategy ?
  • Discursive framework:
    • a story-line of cultural transformation
    • a systemic language: ecological rationality
  • Institutional structures:
    • networks of think tanks and consultants, academics and activists
    • experimental examples, educational programs
  • Practical measures:
    • industrial and urban ecology projects
    • green life-styles, ecological consumption
green business as cognitive praxis
Green Business as Cognitive Praxis

From movement… to institutions

appropriate technology green products

organizational alliances competing networks

ecological society sustainable growth

popular education entrepreneurship

knowledge integration specialization

interpreting translating

movement intellectuals commercial brokers

types of brokerage
Types of Brokerage
  • Networking/organizing
    • vertical (within companies or branches)
    • horizontal (across branches and/or countries)
  • Mediation/translation
    • specialized consultants (often within one sector)
    • generalist academics (”ecomodernists”)
  • Facilitation/entrepreneurship
    • project managers and consulting experts
    • product champions (within business firms)
for example
For example…
  • Networking
      • GIN (Schot and Fischer), WBCSD, ISEE
  • Mediation
      • Amory Lovins, Björn Gillberg, Arne Remmen
  • Entrepreneurship
      • IIIEE, The Natural Step, Body Shop