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Companies need to address issues of justice in order to achieve a zero carbon, resilient and business-friendly economy says new report

last modified Dec 15, 2016 10:57 AM
15 December 2016: A new report, Business, Justice and the Global Economy, published today by CISL, highlights the need for business leaders to incorporate considerations of justice into their decision-making and interactions with stakeholders and policymakers.

Read the report: Business, justice and the new global economy

The report argues that the transition to a zero carbon economy, together with the economic shifts driven by technological advances, will create significant issues of justice and fairness. It highlights the important role of businesses in addressing these issues of equity and justice, which will be critical to achieving a sustainable economy.

Lead author of the report, Lindsay Hooper, Director, CISL said: “Whilst global economic growth and industrial innovation has enhanced the quality of life and wellbeing of billions of people, the benefits have not been equally shared. This has led to widespread and growing inequality which is generating social instability and the disenfranchisement of large sections of society.”

She continued, “Without careful management, the upheaval created by a transition to a zero carbon economy, and industrial shifts driven by technological advances may further exacerbate these destabilising social trends. Yet many businesses are ill-equipped to address issues of justice and fairness and lack a rigorous and systematic approach to supporting just and fair outcomes for stakeholders. Our report aims to contribute to bridging this gap through serving as a resource for business leaders, providing a framework to incorporate considerations of justice into decision-making and interactions with stakeholders and policymakers as they work to support a transition to a sustainable economy.”

The report is divided into three sections. Part 1 explores the social impacts of economic shifts, the need to transition to a sustainable economy and the implications of this for businesses seeking to operate in a fair and just way. Part 2 provides a framework of six key dimensions of justice to underpin and inform decision-making, providing examples of businesses risks and opportunities. Part 3 explores the need to consider justice in the process of transition to a zero carbon economy and in measures to adapt to the physical impacts of climate change.

The report draws on three academic working papers: Justice in the transition to a low carbon economy, The nature of transitions: Implications for the transition to a low carbon economy and The multiple meanings of justice in the context of the transition to a low carbon economy, which look at the nature of justice and its application during economic transition. It also draws on nearly 30 years of CISL working with companies through its executive education for sustainability leadership and business and policy groups. The paper complements the CISL’s Rewiring the Economy plan, which sets out ten collaborative tasks for business, policy and finance leaders to lay the foundations for a sustainable economy: that is, an economy which delivers positive outcomes for people and societies as envisaged by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Adele Wiliams

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