Here is a little book I recently wrote for Wiley, on Sustainable Business, published in 2010. The idea was to ‘map’ the emerging sustainable business space, and to connect it where possible to Australian business practice. Wiley is distributing it in the Australasian market alongside its academic business textbooks.
Here is the back cover summary:
“Sustainability is moving from the margins of business to the centre. Key factors and major global events transforming the business environment include climate change, renewable energy, oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the Timor Sea, Asian sweatshops, patterns of global poverty, and indigenous rights. A new paradigm of business – sustainable business – is emerging: firms are accepting a wider responsibility for environmental and social wellbeing. At the same time, sustainable business offers enhanced business value: better management of risk and new market opportunities. Firms that actively engage with it are positioning themselves for globalmarket leadership.
This work presents a map of the new principles of business and a guide to their application in core disciplines: accounting, finance, marketing, operations and organisation. It presents a challenging and stimulating view of contemporary business for undergraduate university studies. It is a guide to business in the sustainability age.”
Here is an article I recently co-authored with CSIRO researchers, entitled “A conservation industry for sustaining natural capital and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes’, which appear in the February 2010 issue of ‘Ecological Economics’. It is a broad survey of the literature pertaining the the conditions needed for a conservation industry to evolve. The abstract reads:
“Conservation investment in agricultural landscapes has evolved to take a more market-based or business approach. However, current levels of conservation investment are not likely to mitigate degradation to natural capital and ecosystem services. We propose the further evolution of a conservation industry to generate substantially increased investment in conservation in agricultural landscapes, particularly from the private sector. A mature conservation industry is envisaged as comprising of investors, producers, and service providers who produce conservation products and services, exchanged via market transactions. A number of requirements for a viable and effective conservation industry are identified including institutional infrastructure (conservation market institutions and regulatory systems), information provision (quantifying benefits, business models, and accounting and auditing standards), and facilitation (entrepreneurship incubation and capacity building). A conservation industry requires careful design and planning in order to operate effectively. While it is not without risk, a conservation industry has the potential to increase participation and investment in conservation actions and enhance the sustainability of agricultural landscapes.”
This research was conducted for SA Water over 2008-2009, out of the International Graduate School of Business, and the Sustainable Communities Innovation & Research Cluster of the University of South Australia.
Its aim was to develop a framework for valuing catchments as assets. This becomes important in evaluating proposals for capital budgeting in water utilities. Investments in dam building, for example, or dam removal are relatively straightforward to value, since most of the benefits and costs associated them are priced in markets. Catchments, however, are much more complex entities. They have hydrological, geomorphological and ecological attributes, and are drawn upon by a variety of uses, including those deriving from indigenous communities, agriculture, industry, power utilities, and so on, as well as from municipal uses, such as the demand for potable (drinking and bathing) water. Catchments are directly impacted by climate change. Valuation of catchments therefore includes approaches to both use values and non-use values, drawn from the suite of financial and economic methods and from probabilistic analysis.
Download policy briefings of the project:
The objective of this research project was to develop a better understanding of landholder attitudes and values in the on-farm management of native vegetation. It was carried out for the SA Native Vegetation Council.
Previous studies have used quantitative survey techniques, which I have criticised as providing only a superficial understanding of what landholders think and value. I proposed a qualitative methodology, which focuses on unstructured interviews and participant observation, and draws centrally on active listening.
The pilot project area is the Tatiara District Council in the south-east of South Australia. The results of this fieldwork will then be used as a basis for modelling economic incentives and the development of policy which will be more soundly based in landholder values, attitudes and management priorities. It is intended to widen the scope of this pilot research study to a regional study in subsequent research.
Download the research report: