Capitalism- private ownership and resources allocated by markets- has proven to be the most flexible and powerful economic system for social prosperity and for enhancing the quality of life for millions of people. At the same time, it has created negative consequences such as environmental degradation and the accumulation of resources in a few hands. This system has allowed some private companies to amass great economic and political power. Some private companies have grown to become some of the most powerful entities in the planet, even more powerful than some countries. Of the world’s largest economies, about half are countries and the other half are corporations. But In contrast to governments, companies’ main goal is the maximization of profit and they do not respond to the needs of the society but of their investors. As Charles Handy puts it (Harvard Business Review, October 2012), for most people corporations are “anonymous organizations, run by anonymous people, who are the appointed agents of anonymous investors. The economic engines of democratic societies, they are controlled as any monarchy and squat in the midst of democracies like islands unto themselves. No wonder there is a growing perception that their power has escaped popular control- and that the concerns of wider society are being ignored.”
One of these societal concerns and needs widely ignored is the need of a clean environment and the conservation of natural resources. The long-term conservation of ecosystems and the key services that they provide to society is overlooked by many corporations and environmental degradation and its negative consequences are not taken into account when the cost of a project is calculated.
Fortunately, thanks to the pressure put by society, many corporations are incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into its guiding principles. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) describes CSR as “a balanced approach for organizations to address economic, social and environmental issues in a way that aims to benefit people, communities and society.” Corporate Social Responsibility includes consideration of human rights, workplace and employee issues, unfair business practices, organizational governance, environmental aspects, marketplace and consumer issues, community involvement and social development.
As consumers, we have the opportunity (and responsibility) of pushing companies to do the right thing for society and the environment. We can demand that the products we consume follow the CSR principles. Companies, in the other hand, have the responsibility (and the opportunity) to do what is right for society. In fact, companies that embrace this approach are finding it is just good business sense, that they are rewarded with an enhanced reputation that often leads to greater financial value for the enterprise.
Terra Peninsular is creating partnerships with companies that are interested in following CSR principles. We are working with some corporations that are interested in following the CSR principles to create business opportunities that are good for the society and the environment. We are convinced that conservation and profitable businesses are achievable. It is good for business and the planet.