Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Road Less Traveled

Academic journal article Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy

The Road Less Traveled

Article excerpt

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost

Robert Frost undoubtedly wasn't thinking about business the day he penned these memorable lines. Nonetheless, the lines are an apt description of the position many businesses find themselves in these days. For many businesses, the road less traveled is headed toward sustainability; and for those who have chosen this road, it has made all the difference.

Gary Davis of the University of Tennessee discusses how companies today are making the choice for sustainability. He traces the evolution of the concept from its first appearance in 1987, through its development in the Natural Step, the CERES Principles, Agenda 21, and today's emphasis on the triple bottom line of economic, environmental, and social performance.

Davis notes that to date only a few multinational companies have embraced the principles of sustainability. While there have been notable successes, investors are still wary of any program that might detract from the company bottom line. The main challenge for the decades ahead, Davis says, is for business to demonstrate that sustainability is a worth-while destination, one that can fulfil its promise.

Hunter and Amory Lovins, of the Rocky Mountain Institute, suggest that a new form of capitalism, which they call Natural Capitalism, offers the best route to sustainability. Natural Capitalism, which they see as replacing industrial capitalism, is built on four principles: radically more-efficient use of resources, elimination of the concept of waste, a shift in our economic mindset from owning objects to leasing services, and restoration of natural resources. …

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