The term “emerging market” was originally coined by IFC (International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group) to describe a fairly narrow list of middle-to-higher income economies among the developing countries, with stock markets in which foreigners could buy securities. The term’s meaning has since been expanded to include more or less all developing countries. Developing countries are those with a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $9,265 or less
There are several definitions of sustainability and sustainable development, but the best known is that of the World Commission on Environment and Development. This suggests that development is sustainable where “it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Sustainability is about ensuring long-term business success while contributing towards economic and social development, a healthy environment and a stable society. There are three broad components of sustainability. They are sometimes described as “people, planet and profits”, or the “social, economic and environmental” dimensions. Sustainability is sometimes known as “corporate social responsibility” or “corporate citizenship”. I accept that in many respects the terms are synonymous. They cover the same broad aspects of the business: good governance, treatment of employees, impact on the environment, impact on local communities and business relationships with suppliers and customers.
Eco-efficiency involves the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life cycle. The term eco-efficiency was coined by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in its 1992 publication "Changing Course". It is based on the concept of creating more goods and services while using fewer resources and creating less waste and pollution.
According to the WBCSD, critical aspects of eco-efficiency are:
• A reduction in the material intensity of goods or services;
• A reduction in the energy intensity of goods or services;
• Reduced dispersion of toxic materials;
• Improved recyclability;
• Maximum use of renewable resources;
• Greater durability of products;
• Increased service intensity of goods and services.
There is no precise or established definition for sustainable innovation. Arthur D. Little (2004) defined “sustainability-driven” innovation as “the creation of new market space, products and services or processes driven by social, environmental or sustainability issues.” Sustainable innovation is a process where sustainability considerations (environmental, social, and financial) are integrated into company systems from idea generation through to research and development (R&D) and commercialization. This applies to products, services and technologies, as well as new business and organization models (Charter, 2007).
An alternative term is eco-innovation which has been described as: “the process of developing new products, processes or services which provide customer and business value but significantly decrease environmental impact” (James, 1997).Eco-innovation is any form of innovation aiming at significant and demonstrable progress towards the goal of sustainable development, through reducing impacts on the environment or achieving a more efficient and responsible use of natural resources.
Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, eco-innovation only addresses environmental and economic dimensions while sustainable innovation embraces these as well as the broader social and ethical dimensions. Social and ethical issues are especially relevant to sustainable product design and development in the areas of outsourcing and in specific “bottom of the pyramid ” products aimed at meeting the needs of the world’s poor. In general, however, these issues are not easy to apply directly in the fields of product/service design and innovation. Finding solutions to environmental problems through eco-innovation has been, and is likely to remain, the primary focus for sustainable innovation while aiming to achieve social benefits.
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