What is it about?

Greening an existing business requires a different way of thinking and a different way of conducting commercial activities. There can be no business as usual in our world without compromising a firm’s reputation and in the long term harming the bottom line. Many new things will have to be done, a great deal of new and sometimes difficult learning will need to be undertaken and if we want our future to be sustainable, as well as prosperous, businesses need to combine competition with cooperation. An important aspect of this will involve collectively producing and sharing knowledge, and setting and agreeing to performance, ethical, and other standards. It will involve respecting both the limitations and opportunities afforded by smart technologies, and complex and sophisticated management information systems. The values, principles, and processes of closed-loop production, as well as investment in population-reduction policies, are of primary significance in this regard.

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Why is it important?

Digital technologies have increased and enhanced information flows and to a considerable extent dematerialized large parts of the global economy. They have pointed the way, perhaps to more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. But these digital technologies are big consumers too – of energy, of rare-earth metals, of time, and much more. The carbon footprint of ICT will soon overtake that of global aviation as more smartphones than people will inhabit the planet. We need to know what resources exist in our world. How much is left of what is finite and how we can ensure that those renewable resources, and the ecosystem services nature provides, are indeed renewed. Businesses need to be creative and innovative. Most importantly new networks need to be developed through which new knowledge, expertise, and emerging good practice can be shared. The following sections explore how the things we produce and consume can be possibly made ethical and sustainable, and how we can better communicate across sectors.


Working and collaborating with others has become an essential element in the way organizations address complex problems, promote sustainability, and develop innovative sustainability practices.

Dr Helen Kopnina
Northumbria University

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This page is a summary of: Strategic change for sustainability, April 2018, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.4324/9781315110172-7.
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