Article

Looking Back, Thinking Forward: Distinguishing Between Weak and Strong Sustainability

Nigel Roome

in The Oxford Handbook of Business and the Natural Environment

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199584451
Published online January 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199584451.003.0034

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Looking Back, Thinking Forward: Distinguishing Between Weak and Strong Sustainability

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This article characterizes two distinct perspectives in the field of business and environment—weak and strong sustainability. It specifically investigates the distinction between corporate environmental management or “weak sustainability” and the business contribution to sustainable development or “strong sustainability”. It first explains the different ways of framing the two concepts. It then explores what it means for a business to build capacity for weak and for strong sustainability. A brief statement on the implications for future research and education that stem from these distinctions is presented. Weak and strong sustainability are differentiated by their approach to integration, the ambition of the vision of change, the complexity of the innovation and the extent of collaboration among social, political, and economic actors. Weak sustainability is not sufficient to bring about the transition to a sustainable future.

Keywords: weak sustainability; strong sustainability; corporate environmental management; business contribution; education

Article.  3554 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business Strategy ; Business Ethics

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