Policy ForumCorporate Sustainability

Scientifically assess impacts of sustainable investments

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Science  02 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6375, pp. 523-525
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3895

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  • A shift of economy from quantity to quality is required for sustainable investments

    C. J. Vörösmarty et al. wrote about sustainable investments related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (1). To keep the sustainability of business, the assessment model with social or environmental performance has been started.
    In the industrial revolution with the lack of land and food for continuous growth, there was a controversy between Richard Cobden and Thomas Robert Malthus in the 1800's. The former considered that people can continue growth by getting resources from the outside of the UK, and the latter insisted that stopping growth is a solution in order to be sustainable.
    Nowadays, in the closed system of the earth, we have to select the latter, which is incompatible with the traditional business that emphasizes growth. In other words, business is required to switch from quantity to quality. (Surely, if daily human activities are implemented in the space, the former can be applied. However, since they have not been realized yet, there is no choice but to withhold the former at the present time.)
    For example, when sales have decreased but customer satisfaction has increased, can we evaluate the business and raise its stock price? Capitalist economy faces a big challenge whereas business is essentially aimed at growth.

    1. C. J. Vörösmarty et al., Scientifically assess impacts of sustainable investments. Science (80-. ). 359, 523–525 (2018).

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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